What’s new at ANSIRH

  • New ANSIRH study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that major complications after abortion are extremely rare
  • Carole Joffe publishes new textbook, Reproduction and Society
  • Former director Tracy Weitz honored with Irvin M. Cushner Award
  • ANSIRH seeking new Director
  • Diana Taylor honored with inaugural Hysterical Hero Award
  • Tracy Weitz receives 2014 ACN Vision Award
  • Katrina Kimport publishes new book, Queering Marriage
  • California bucks the trend: New law will increase abortion access
  • Carole Joffe receives SFP 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • AJPH publishes new data from ANSIRH's Turnaway Study
  • Turnaway Study featured in New York Times Magazine
  • Tracy Weitz receives Choice USA 2013 Generation 2 Generation Award
  • New ANSIRH study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that major complications after abortion are extremely rare

    Obstetrics & Gynecology logo

    In the most comprehensive look yet at the safety of abortion, ANSIRH researchers have found that major complications occur in less than a quarter of a percent of all abortions, about the same frequency as major complications in colonoscopies. The study, published online on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Obstetrics & Gynecology, analyzed data from more than 50,000 women enrolled in the Medi-Cal fee-for-service program who obtained abortions from 2009 to 2010, and looked for complications that occurred within six weeks of the procedure.

    The rate is similar to what has been found in previous studies, but this is the first study in which researchers have based their conclusions on complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since some women must travel long distances to find abortion providers, they tend to receive follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live. For many women, this means their local emergency department. But, up until now, no study has systematically examined emergency department use for post-abortion care.

    “Our study had very complete follow-up data on all of the women in it, and we still found a very low complication rate,” said Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH, the lead author of the study. “Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety.”

    Other authors of the study include Tracy A. Weitz, PhD, MPA, and Patricia Anderson, MPH, of ANSIRH; Sheila Desai, MPH, who did the research while at ANSIRH; Diana Taylor PhD, RNP, an emeritus professor in the UCSF School of Nursing; Daniel Grossman, MD, of the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Ibis Reproductive Health; and Vera Zlidar, MHS, who did the research while at John Snow, Inc.

    The researchers said they expect the study to contribute to the national debate over abortion safety. Many state legislatures have recently passed laws that have the effect of reducing access to abortion by requiring providers to have transfer agreements or admitting privileges with hospitals or to construct their clinics so that they meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center. But the researchers said that these restrictions were likely to make women travel further to get abortions or induce them on their own using unsafe methods, both of which may increase the risks for women.

    See the full article on the study (downloadable pdf), the related issue brief, and ANSIRH’s press release.

    Carole Joffe publishes new textbook, Reproduction and Society

    Reproduction and Society coverANSIRH research and faculty member, Carole Joffe, PhD, releases her latest book, Reproduction and Society: Interdisciplinary Readings, on September 15, 2014. Framed with original introductions, Reproduction and Society is a collection of essays edited by Joffe and Jennifer Reich, PhD, that includes selections by present and past members of the UCSF ANSIRH and Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health communities: Lori Freedman, PhD; Tracy Weitz, PhD; Naomi Stotland, MD (writing about the prison work of Carolyn Sufrin, MD), as well as Joffe herself. Divided into six rich and varied sections, this book offers students and instructors a broad overview of the social meanings of reproduction and offers opportunities to explore significant questions of how resources are allocated, individuals are regulated, and how very much is at stake as people and communities aim to determine their own family size and reproductive experiences. This is an ideal core text for courses on reproduction, sexuality, gender, the family, and public health. 

    Former director Tracy Weitz honored with Irvin M. Cushner Award

    Dr. Tracy Weitz, recipient of ARHP's 2014 Irvin M. Cushner AwardTracy A. Weitz, PhD, MPA—co-founder and former director of ANSIRH and now the director of domestic programs at the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation—will be honored with the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals’ Irvin M. Cushner Award. The award will be presented in September at Reproductive Health 2014, ARHP’s annual conference.

    The annual Cushner Lectureship is awarded to a layperson, public figure, or health care professional who has raised public awareness and inspired public policy debate regarding a pressing current issue in the field of health care, especially one pertaining to reproductive health. It is named after Dr. Irvin Cushner, who helped develop the field of social obstetrics and guidelines for the legalization of abortion in the state of Maryland. Dr. Cushner served as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs for the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

    Congratulations, Tracy!

    ANSIRH seeking new Director

    ANSIRH is seeking a new Director, which is a faculty position in reproductive health at UCSFANSIRH is seeking a new Director, which will be a faculty position within the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

    ANSIRH works to ensure that reproductive health care and policy are grounded in evidence. The Director will lead ANSIRH’s multi-disciplinary team, which includes clinicians, researchers and scholars in the fields of sociology, public health, demography, epidemiology, psychology, and nursing. We seek:

    • A researcher (MD, PhD or DrPH) with extensive experience and a distinguished publication record in abortion and reproductive health research.
    • A collaborative leader who will guide the organizational development of ANSIRH, cultivate an identity beyond the collection of individual research projects, and identify new opportunities and funding sources for ANSIRH. The Director would also represent ANSIRH credibly and compellingly to the public, the University, the media, and others working in the field.
    • A mentor who can ensure mentorship of staff and faculty at all levels of the organization, establishing structures for nurturing career/research development and growth.

    Read more…

    Diana Taylor honored with inaugural Hysterical Hero Award

    Dr. Diana Taylor honored by Women's Community Clinic with inaugural Hysterical Hero AwardDiana Taylor is the recipient of the inaugural Hysterical Hero Award at the 2014 Hysteria Benefit for the Women’s Community Clinic. Taylor is a longtime Board Member, volunteer clinician, and tireless advocate for the Clinic.

    “We built the kind of place where we want to receive care,” Taylor says. “The Clinic has been volunteer-driven since our opening; our volunteers are incredible – lay volunteers who are passionate about educating women about improving their health as well as the expert nurses and doctors who volunteer so they can provide care the way we believe it should be provided!”

    “The Clinic not only fills an important need but is educating women to take care of themselves and training future health professionals,” she says. “We believe health is wealth and that women’s health means family and community health.”

    Congratulations for a much-deserved award, Diana!

    Tracy Weitz receives 2014 ACN Vision Award

    Dr. Tracy Weitz awarded 2014 Vision Award by Abortion Care NetworkThe Abortion Care Network (ACN) holds an annual meeting in which they honor three individuals who exemplify excellence in our field.  This year ACN dedicated its 2014 Conference to the Center for Reproductive Rights for its extraordinary advocacy for independent clinics and its visionary campaigns to end the stigmatization of abortion. ACN honored Amy Hagstrom-Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health with the David Gunn Lifetime Achievement Award; Tracy Weitz, former Director of ANSIRH, with the Vision Award; and Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check with the ACN Person of the Year Award.

    The Vision Award, given to “person or persons who challenge the stigma of abortion in every day practice,” was awarded to our own Tracy Weitz for her creativity and leadership in her years as Director of ANSIRH.

    Congratulations, Tracy!

    Katrina Kimport publishes new book, Queering Marriage

    Queering MarriageAs we celebrate Freedom to Marry Day on February 12th, we also celebrate the recently published book by ANSIRH research and faculty member Katrina Kimport, PhD.  In Queering Marriage: Challenging Family Formation in the United States, Kimport uses in-depth interviews with participants in the San Francisco weddings to argue that same-sex marriage cannot be understood as simply entrenching or contesting heterosexual privilege. Instead, she contends, these new legally sanctioned relationships can both reinforce as well as disrupt the association of marriage and heterosexuality.

    During her deeply personal conversations with same-sex spouses, Kimport learned that the majority of respondents did characterize their marriages as an opportunity to contest heterosexual privilege. Yet, in a seeming contradiction, nearly as many also cited their desire for access to the normative benefits of matrimony, including social recognition and legal rights. Kimport’s research revealed that the pattern of ascribing meaning to marriage varied by parenthood status and, in turn, by gender. Lesbian parents were more likely to embrace normative meanings for their unions; those who are not parents were more likely to define their relationships as attempts to contest dominant understandings of marriage.

    By posing the question – can queers “queer” marriage? – Kimport provides a nuanced, accessible, and theoretically grounded framework for understanding the powerful effect of heterosexual expectations on both sexual and social categories.

    California bucks the trend: New law—based on ANSIRH research—will increase abortion access

    California State Capitol

    Today Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 154 (AB154). AB154 removes barriers to abortion provision for nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants, allowing them to perform to the fullest extent of their education and competency and provide more comprehensive reproductive health care for women throughout California.

    The bill is based on ANSIRH’s six-year study, Health Workforce Pilot Project #171, which showed that these skilled health professionals can safely and competently provide early abortion care and that women appreciated receiving care in their own communities from providers they know and trust. ANSIRH is proud that our research played a part in an important law change in California that will remove barriers to abortion provision for advance practice nurses and physician assistants and help to increase access to needed services throughout the state.

    Carole Joffe receives SFP 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award

    Carole Joffe, PhD, is a professor at ANSIRH and a professor of sociology emerita at the University of California, Davis.

    ANSIRH research and faculty member Carole Joffe, PhD, has been awarded the Society of Family Planning’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was established in 2005 to honor outstanding individuals whose cumulative research has reached the highest level of importance in the field. It is one of only three awards that SFP grants yearly. Awardees are chosen for scholarship over the majority of a career that advances clinical or social science within family planning—especially work that creates a foundation for others to achieve academic success or provides clinical information and resources that help women with reproductive issues specific to family planning.

    The award was presented at the SFP awards luncheon on October 7, part of the 2013 North American Forum on Family Planning. Read a transcript of the terrific talk Dr. Joffe gave after receiving the reward: “The Social Status of Abortion Providers: ‘Doctors of Conscience’ Revisited.”

    Dr. Joffe is the author of four books: Friendly Intruders: Childcare Professionals and Family Life (1977); The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family Planning Workers (1986); Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion before and after Roe v Wade (1996); and Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients and the Rest of Us (December, 2009). She is also the author of numerous articles on various aspects of reproductive health services and politics. Besides writing for an academic audience, Joffe has throughout her career written for the general public as well, publishing op-eds and letters in leading newspapers (Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, among others) and websites such as RHRealitycheck.org, Huffington Post, Salon, and Slate.

    Congratulations, Carole!

    New Turnaway Study data published in AJPH identifies barriers resulting in thousands of US women being denied abortions each year

    ANSIRH's Turnaway Study results published in American Journal of Public HealthResults of key data from the Turnaway Study show that the main reason women delay seeking abortions is having to raise money for travel and procedure costs. That delay means every year at least 4,000 US women are turned away from facilities due to gestational age limits and must carry their unwanted pregnancies to term. The analysis of the data is published in a peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Public Health entitled “Denial of Abortion Due to Gestational Age Limits in the United States.”

    Delays in seeking abortions are primarily due to costs, with young and poor women being the most affected. Nearly half of the women who sought a second trimester abortion didn’t even know they were pregnant until they were in the second trimester, and about 10% didn’t know until after 20 weeks. Once women are late in discovering they are pregnant, everything else is more difficult—there are fewer providers who offer later abortions; they have to travel farther and pay more to get the procedure, which leads to more delays. With new state laws imposing lower gestational age limits for abortion care, more and more women will face these barriers and will have to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

    Conclusions from the study:

    • Women seeking later abortions tend to be younger and recognize their pregnancies later.
    • Women in need of second-trimester abortions are particularly vulnerable insofar as there are fewer providers that offer these services, and when they are available, procedures typically cost several hundred, or even thousands, dollars more than a first-trimester procedure.
    • As more states approve laws that impose lower and lower gestational limits, more women will face these burdens, leading to even more unintended births.

    See the full article on the study, ANSIRH’s press release, and the Guttmacher Institute press release on the study results.

    Turnaway Study featured in New York Times Magazine

    ANSIRH's Turnaway Study featured in June 16, 2013 New York Times Magazine, in article by Joshua Lang

    On June 12, 2013, the New York Times website ran a lengthy article featuring the Turnaway Study, ANSIRH’s ground-breaking study on what happens to women who seek abortions but are turned away because they are over the gestational limits of the clinic to which they’ve gone. The article, written by U.C. Berkeley-U.C.S.F. Joint Medical Program student Joshua Lang and appearing in the June 16 print version of the New York Times Magazine, draws on an extensive interview with Diana Greene Foster, PhD, ANSIRH’s Director of Research and Principal Investigator of the Turnaway Study. It discusses the antecedents, rationale, and development of the study, its context within the scientific literature, and the results that Dr. Foster and her team found.

    For additional publications on the Turnaway study, see our publications page. Research connected with the Turnaway Study has already been published by Contraception, Women’s Health Issues, and Alcohol and Alcoholism; new publications are in press at Women’s Health Issues,Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, and American Journal of Public Health. The study was also the subject of a segment of theMelissa Harris-Perry Show broadcast on November 25, 2012.

    Tracy Weitz receives Choice USA 2013 Generation 2 Generation Award

    weitz2ANSIRH Director Tracy Weitz is the recipient of the 2013 Steinem-Waters Legacy Award, one ofChoice USA’s annual Generation 2 Generation Awards. Now in its fourth year, the Steinem-Waters Legacy Award is given to a “movement leader over 30 who has exhibited a consistent investment in developing young people in the field of reproductive justice.” The award will be presented on July 19, 2013 at theGeneration 2 Generation Celebration & Awards in Washington, DC, billed as the event to attend if you want to be inspired by young reproductive justice advocates and their mentors.