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ANSIRH Statement in Support of the Movement for Black Lives

Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) supports the Movement for Black Lives and their central demand to defund the police. The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Erik Salgado, Sean Monterrosa, and Oscar Grant—among so many others—demonstrate that racist police violence is a critical public health problem in our country. In addressing this crisis, we stand with Black Lives Matter and affirm that it is time for “radical, sustainable solutions that affirm the prosperity of Black lives.”

In our own work, we pledge to eliminate the presence of police wherever possible. At future off-campus events we host, we commit to using community members to provide security instead of police. At on-campus events, we will request that UCSF Police not be present. We will also use our voice within the University of California (UC) and at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) to advocate for abolishing the UC Police and ending the relationship with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to provide security at SFGH.

We recognize that racism and white supremacy are deeply ingrained within our academic institutions, within medicine and medical research, and in our community of Oakland, where ANSIRH’s office is located. Even within UCSF, our department, and at ANSIRH, we realize we have created and upheld structures that limit the success of Black and Brown scholars and staff, rather than contributing to their growth and accomplishment. We renew our commitment to combatting racism in our workplace and recognize that we have much work to do to diversify ANSIRH’s faculty and staff at all levels and create an inclusive and equitable environment for all. We also commit to deepening our ties to the Oakland community and supporting the Black-led organizations and businesses in our neighborhood.

At ANSIRH, we envision a world in which all people have the resources, support, and freedom to achieve reproductive wellbeing. This vision is impossible to achieve while Black and Brown communities are targets of state violence. We are listening to our colleagues at Reproductive Justice organizations, who are saying, “There can be no Reproductive Justice when Black womxn are criminalized, when Black trans and non-binary people are marginalized, and when Black parents cannot raise their children in peace and free from fear.”

We are heartened by the growing movement that is demanding change, and recognize that this is an historic moment where there is no such thing as neutrality. We pledge to use our privilege and power to actively support and lift up the work of colleagues who are Black, indigenous, and people of color who are leading this movement—in Oakland, the Bay Area, and across the country.

This statement was developed and approved by Daniel Grossman, Molly Battistelli, and Diana Greene Foster; Chris Ahlbach, Isabel Muñoz, and Erin Wingo provided input on the initial drafting of the statement. All investigators and staff at ANSIRH had an opportunity to give comments and suggest edits to the statement.


Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

At the beginning of 2018, ANSIRH started a formal process* to examine how well our internal policies and procedures reflect our values of integrity, collaboration, innovation, cultivation, and justice. The statement below elaborates on why we believe that work focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to us as an organization. We recognize, however, that a statement is not sufficient to make the kind of change we hope to see in our field, and in the world. ANSIRH is committed to putting time, money, and focus behind this effort to ensure that our recruitment and hiring practices support our goal to build a diverse workforce, and that our culture supports people of all backgrounds to thrive in our team. 

Why diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are important to ANSIRH

ANSIRH has a strong commitment to having the challenging conversations and making the bold choices that will move us closer to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. We make this commitment because we believe that our work will be richer and have greater potential for impact with a more diverse and representative workforce, and because it is simply the right thing to do.

While diversity, equity, and inclusion have become a focus of many US-based organizations in recent years, we feel there are particular reasons why ANSIRH, as a leader in reproductive health research, must prioritize this work. Most importantly, the populations affected by the topics we study, such as unintended pregnancy and abortion, are disproportionately people of color and those living on low incomes. If our staff and faculty lack personal experience with or deep understanding of the circumstances and realities in which the people we study live, we risk asking uninformed questions, missing important findings, or failing to adequately translate our research results into action. We believe our research will be more relevant and useful when it is informed by a diverse group of faculty and staff.

In addition, we recognize the critical role that the reproductive justice movement has played to lift up the voices of people of color and advocate for a broad range of policies aimed at improving their health and rights. Reproductive justice organizations are important partners in our work, providing input on research questions, study design, recruitment, and dissemination. As we aim to deepen our partnerships with reproductive justice organizations, it is imperative that we also deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within our own organization. We understand the importance of meaningful actions aimed at diversifying the ANSIRH community, and we appreciate the encouragement we have received from our reproductive justice colleagues to make progress on this goal.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also important to ANSIRH because of our role in training the next generation of researchers who study abortion and other areas of reproductive health. We have a responsibility to the field to help create a diverse pipeline of well-trained researchers, which we cannot do without a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organization. The best ideas that will help us advance our field are most likely to come from an interdisciplinary team of people from diverse backgrounds, and ANSIRH has a mandate to help build this robust research workforce.

We recognize that structural inequities, including lack of access to education, inadequate funding for education, and the need to balance other personal responsibilities, may prevent some groups of people from pursuing advanced degrees and contribute to homogenous research teams. We are committed to addressing these inequities through our hiring practices, by providing paid internships, deepening partnerships with advocates and other organizations that have successfully prioritized diversity, and addressing structural factors that have influenced how we hire faculty members, among other activities.

In making this commitment, ANSIRH recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a goal to be reached, but rather a process. It requires that we constantly reflect on our actions and assess our progress. We recognize that mistakes, both personal and organizational, are not only possible, but likely, and it is our responsibility to continue to learn and grow despite setbacks. We recognize that recruiting and hiring a diverse faculty and staff is not sufficient to achieve our goals; we must also create a culture that is inclusive and welcoming for everyone who participates in it. Beyond the outcomes described above, we anticipate that our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion will lead to increased employee engagement and contribute to everyone’s personal growth. UCSF and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences have long prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we look forward to partnering with the broader university community to share lessons learned as we strengthen our commitment to this work.

*We are grateful to the Organizational Effectiveness Program at the David and Lucille Packard Foundation for its initial support of this work.