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Center will increase access to abortion and other sexual and reproductive health care locally and nationally

BOSTON – Today, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) CEO and President Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak and leading reproductive health care providers, educators, and researchers formally launched PPLM's ASPIRE Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health alongside keynote speakers Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Attorney General candidate Andrea Campbell. 

Through its groundbreaking research, education, and training programs, the ASPIRE (Advancing Science and Practice through Innovations in Research and Education) Center’s work will help to remove barriers to abortion care and improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes, not just in Massachusetts but in states with lower access to abortion.  

During a visit to Massachusetts in August, Vice President Kamala Harris lauded Massachusetts as a national model for protecting reproductive freedom, and she’s right. Massachusetts is a strong access state for abortion and PPLM is the state’s leading provider of abortion care, but with Roe v. Wade overturned, our role in the fight for reproductive freedom and abortion access is much bigger. That’s why the time to launch and leverage ASPIRE is now,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President and CEO of PPLM. 

Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to host ASPIRE as one of only six Planned Parenthood affiliates that conducts social science research, one of thirteen affiliates that conducts clinical research, and one with a nationally recognized education department. PPLM’s Get Real middle school curriculum is the first Planned Parenthood sex education curriculum included in the U.S. Health and Human Services list of evidence-based programs due to its proven effectiveness, and has been selected by 663 schools and organizations in 44 different states and 6 different countries, reaching approximately 311,686 youth each year. 

Why is ASPIRE necessary? 

  • Barriers to accessing abortion are greater than ever. Research will play an important role in advancing medical care and in working to reverse the disastrous effects of overturning Roe v. Wade through federal, state, and local legislation. 
  • Abortion restrictions disproportionately impact BIPOC individuals, because they amplify existing effects of structural and interpersonal discrimination. PPLM’s 2019 study on the impact of Massachusetts' parental involvement law for abortion demonstrated that the law disproportionately burdens Black and Latinx youth, causing them delays in access to care and higher associated stress and costs 
  • Transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming (TNGC) people often feel alienated and experience inferior care in reproductive health settings focused on "women's" health. We know the importance of inclusive environments for people of all genders seeking abortion, because PPLM’s own research has shown that hundreds of TNGC people seek abortions at our clinics every year. 
  • Medical students in states with abortion bans are losing out on essential training. Abortion bans don’t prevent abortions — they just prevent safe abortions and, as we are already seeing, are impacting access states with floods of new patients and overwhelmed clinics that need more providers. 
  • With abortion bans in effect in more than a dozen states, expanding access to comprehensive sex education and birth control – especially in a way that de-stigmatizes abortion – is essential to reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy and improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes. 

What will ASPIRE do? 

  • Train the next generation of physician leaders in abortion and contraception clinical care and research through PPLM's collaborative Complex Family Planning Fellowship. Abortion is an essential part of reproductive and maternal health care, the same procedure that is used to manage a miscarriage.
  • Conduct clinical and social science research that will help medical experts offer better health care solutions to patients, provide data that will inform better health policy, and ensure we are training sexual and reproductive health care providers and educators with an equity lens. 
  • Research the impact of abortion bans and the barriers marginalized populations face in accessing care. ASPIRE’s social science research team recently received funding to study the impact of abortion bans have on BIPOC, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth with disabilities who have to travel across state lines to receive care. 
  • Expand the reach of PPLM’s comprehensive sex education and professional education programs locally and nationally, with a new emphasis on combating abortion stigma.  

Featured speakers Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Andrea Campbell praised ASPIRE’s work during the morning launch event:  

“Massachusetts has some of the strongest abortion protection laws in the country, but with anti-abortion politicians nationwide stopping at nothing to strip away our reproductive freedom, I’m proud that Massachusetts has not conceded our ability to lead,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07). “The research, education, and training at the brand new ASPIRE Center will help us save lives and affirm reproductive health care as the fundamental human right that it is. As we work to enshrine the right to abortion care at the federal level, I could not be prouder to call Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts my partner in this work.” 

“The ASPIRE Center will be a resource to identify existing gaps in care, collaborate on solutions, and truly expand the conversation on sexual and reproductive health through an inclusive and intersectional lens. With government and organizations like PPLM working together, Massachusetts won’t just lead on reproductive rights, we will pave the way for true reproductive justice," said Andrea Campbell, Democratic nominee for Massachusetts Attorney General.  

PPLM also announced ASPIRE’s Advisory Council, made up of a dozen sexual and reproductive health leaders from academia, medicine, and research who will lend their expertise and advice to guide ASPIRE’s work in the years to come. Members of ASPIRE’s Advisory Council are:  

  • Abha Singhal: The Chirag Foundation 
  • Debra Christopher, MSM: ETR 
  • Elaine Smith 
  • Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH: New England Gender C.A.R.E. Consortium and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 
  • Lindsay McNair, MD, MPH, MS: WIRB-Copernicus and Boston University School of Public Health 
  • Linette Liebling, M.S.P.H: Wheaton College and public health consultant 
  • Megan Mays, DNP, WHNP: The Medical Affairs Company 
  • Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, Ph.D., MPH: the Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab and Tufts University School of Medicine 
  • Patti Kraft, Esq. 
  • Stephanie Campbell, MPH: Office of Sexual Health and Youth Development at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health 
  • Susan S. Fish, Pharm D, MPH: Boston University School of Public Health 

About PPLM: 

The mission of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is to ensure every person in the state has access to sexual and reproductive health care and education no matter who they are, where they live, or who they love. Our work is informed by research, powered by advocacy, and conducted with compassion and respect.  

About the ASPIRE Center: 

ASPIRE works to advance excellence and equity in sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing. Core to this goal are efforts to destigmatize sexual health along with access to sex education and the full range of care, including abortion. ASPIRE builds knowledge and skills and supports work to advance policies to combat systemic barriers disproportionately preventing Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ people, young people, and people with disabilities from accessing quality sexual and reproductive health care. These goals are achieved through clinical and social science research, evidence-based professional education, and clinical training, both independently and in partnership with academic institutions, teaching hospitals, health care professionals, social service and community-based organizations, schools, educators, and peer institutions.   



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