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Entries in abortion (20)


Notes From The Salon: Using Herbs to Control Fertility

For time untold women have used herbal medicine to assist them in controlling their fertility. Herbs have been used by women seeking to become pregnant, to end unintended pregnancies, and act as birth control.  

The presenters at our March 20th Salon on Using Herbs to Control Fertility were Cynthia Belew, a certified nurse-midwife and herbalist, and Beth Rees, an herbalist and doula. 

Below are tidbits of words and images from the event...


  • Having lots of cramps? Magnesium, B Complex, Fish Oil, Zinc, and Vitamin D can help!  
  • Want to delay PMS? Herbal teas including ginger, strong chamomile, fennel seed, and lemon balm can help.   
  • Did you know Evening Primrose Oil can help soften the cervix?
  • Cottonroot blocks implantation and action of progesterone; it's used for missed/incomplete abortion, retained pregnancy contents, and to induce labor.



Can you smell the herbs? Which have you used? 


Understanding abortion stigma

By Sarah Whedon

Webinar image by Anders Abrahamsson week I attended a webinar on Understanding and addressing abortion stigma hosted by ANSIRH and  Ipas. 

Leila Hessini, MA, MPH and Kristen M. Shellenberg, PhD, MPH presented an agenda which included

  • discussing a conceptual model of stigma
  • describing scales for measuring stigma
  • explaining current research on institutional and structural stigma
  • and a Q & A.

The researchers described stigma as a social process and defined abortion stigma specifically as:  

"A negative attribute, ascribed to women who seek to terminate a pregnancy, that 'marks' them as inferior to ideals of womanhood." 

They identified this stigma as resulting from perceived transgression of three global archetypes:
  • sex is solely for procreation, 
  • motherhood is inevitable, 
  • and women instinctively nurture the vulnerable.

The consequences of abortion stigma can be devastating, ranging from feelings of shame to death:

Abortion Stigma <-> Secrecy, silence, denial, shame, guilt <-> Delays, untrained providers, self-induction <-> Poor quality, high cost, abuse, complications, suicide, death

The research on these processes uses a questionnaire which was developed in several steps. They are using this questionnaire to explore institutional and structural abortion stigma at service delivery sites in Kenya, Uganda, Mexico, and India. They want to understand the processes of stigma so that they can develop and implement stigma reduction interventions at the health facility and community levels.

The Q & A included a lot of really juicy questions, including excellent ones about beliefs and values from our friend Darcy and about gender diversity from our own volunteer Renee.

If this work intrigues you, there's a chance to learn more. On second Tuesdays each month through June ANSIRH and Ipas will be hosting webinars on HIV, sexual, and abortion stigma research. 




Profile: ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) 

The Bay Area is home to many fabulous organizations focused on reproductive health and justice working on local, regional, and national levels. To connect, share, and showcase the exciting work being done by all these organizations we have been profiling them here in our blog. We started in October with a profile of ACCESS Women's Health Justice, and in December we profiled the SFGH Volunteer Doula Group. Today we are focusing on ANSIRH. Thank you to Megan Burgoyne who took time to answer our questions, as follows.
What is a bit of ANSIRH’s history?
Felicia Stewart, MD, and Tracy Weitz, PhD, MPA co-founded ANSIRH in 2002. Both women were working within the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco and determined that a new program was needed that focused on clinical care and public policy on abortion. That program became ANSIRH. The name ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) developed out of a belief that science, not politics, should determine care and policy, and that we should always be moving the field forward rather than simply holding ground. What started as a conversation has turned into over 10 years of groundbreaking research and collaboration across multiple disciplines. ANSIRH has grown in its scope, depth, and numbers with over 30 researchers and staff members focusing on advancing science and public policy in reproductive health.
What is the overall mission of ANSIRH? Who does it serve and how?
ANSIRH’s mission is to ensure that reproductive health care and policy are grounded in evidence through multi-disciplinary research, training and advocacy. ANSIRH’s multi-disciplinary team includes clinicians, researchers and scholars in the fields of demography, sociology, anthropology, nursing, psychology, public health, economics, medicine and law. Our research agenda reflects our long-term vision of improving the health and well-being of women:
• We are examining the issues faced by advanced practice clinicians (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants) who are providers of early aspiration abortion care.
• We are documenting the health systems, policy, and training barriers that limit the provision of second trimester abortion and the effects of those limits on clinical care.
• We are measuring the effect of unintended pregnancy on women’s lives.
• Through in-depth interviews and ethnography, we are collecting and analyzing women’s and clinical providers’ perceptions of abortion care.
What is one major success of the organization?
Due to the breadth of our work, it’s hard to choose just one major ANSIRH success. We have two large studies currently underway that have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of women across California and the country. The Turnaway Study is a prospective longitudinal study examining the effects of unintended pregnancy on women’s lives. The major aim of the study is to describe the mental health, physical health, and socioeconomic consequences of receiving an abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. Initial results are beginning to emerge as we’re about half way through this study, for more information visit
Our second largest study is the Health Workforce Pilot Project (HWPP) #171, a California-based, multi site, six-year study of advanced practice clinicians—nurse practitioners (NPs), certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and physician assistants (PAs)—as providers of early aspiration abortion care. Operating under a mechanism of the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), HWPP #171 is a pilot project of 50-60 advanced practice clinicians who are being trained in abortion care and provision at health facilities around the state, using ANSIRH’s Early Abortion Training Workbook. Currently in the final year of the project, the HWPP Project researchers and staff are in the process of analyzing and publishing the training and practice evaluation data on the safety and effectiveness of NPs, CNMs, and PAs as abortion providers. For more information on that study, visit
What would you like to see happen with ANSIRH in the next 1-5 years?
ANSIRH plays a unique role as a multi-disciplinary research program focused on reproductive health. ANSIRH focuses on engaging directly with clinicians who perform abortions and the women who have them, and is dedicated to translating that research into changes in clinical care and public policy. The ability to research the difficult social questions, analyze the data, and make it available to advocates can have a profound effect on how reproductive health care is delivered and how laws and regulations are written. Because of this, we would like to see ANSIRH’s national presence grow as well as our ability to contribute evidence-based research to an often ideologically driven political conversation.
Is it possible for others to get involved, and if yes, how?
We welcome interest from undergraduate or graduate students interested in reproductive health and volunteering or working as interns for school credit in our office. We also encourage engagement with our work through social media – following, commenting, liking, and sharing our work through the ANSIRH blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
Where can people find more information on the organization?
We have lots of great resources and information about who we are, what we do, and what our research finds on our website: You can also stay up-to-date on our latest research through our social media sites - ANSIRH blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Why full-spectrum?

By Sarah Whedon, BADP doula and blogger

The Bay Area Doula Project is a full-spectrum doula organization.  That means we support folks across the spectrum of their reproductive lives.  We want all people to have access to compassionate support through all the possible outcomes of pregnancy, as well as for sexual and reproductive health issues that don't involve pregnancy. 

But why does it make sense for us to bring these all together instead of forming an organization that focuses on a single issue? I see three major reasons: the people we serve, the volunteer energy we draw upon, and the issues involved.  Let me explain.

1. Clients. The population we aim to serve doesn't necessarily keep their reproductive experiences distinct.  A person giving birth is often a person who's had a miscarriage. A person seeking an abortion is often a parent who's experienced one or more births.  According to the Guttmacher Institute 60% of people seeking abortions are already mothers.  To a large extent, then, the abortion-seeking population is the birthing population. A full-spectrum organization can help to normalize that reality and to re-integrate a fragmented system.

2. Doulas. There are already so many great people who are bringing a practice of compassion and a knowledge of healthcare environments to their birth and postpartum doula work.  It makes sense to tap that pool of experienced doulas and support them in bringing their resources to other areas where support is needed, like abortion, miscarriage, and adoption.  Since there's already growing structural and cultural support in place for birth and postpartum doula training and work, we can build from that rather than reinventing the wheel. Many of the people who come to the BADP for abortion doula training already have vast experience as birth and/or postpartum doulas.

3. Interlocking issues.  Reproductive concerns which may at first blush appear to be separate are actually interlinked. When we take issues of reproductive justice in isolation, we can miss the bigger picture.  Here's an example: in certain cases a previous cesarean section can increase the risks of abortion, but nobody mentions that when a cesarean birth is being proposed.  In the U.S. we have "a current national cesarean section rate of over 30%, despite evidence that a rate of 5% to 10% would be optimal."  There's a movement to increase access to abortion and a movement to decease the cesarean rate, but the two movements rarely deliberately come together and see their common cause.  A full-spectrum doula movement can help to connect issues like this.

Of course doulas and activists can do a lot of good by focusing on a single issue, and everybody has to start somewhere.  The BADP started with a focus on abortion support.  However, as an organization it's always been situated within the full-spectrum framework, and that gives us a special kind of power to create larger change in reproductive health.



Welcome to our newly trained BADP doulas!

Last Sunday, October 21 the Bay Area Doula Project welcomed thirteen new volunteers to our organization during an all-day training held in Oakland. We are very excited to work with all the amazing new doulas who bring a wide range of experiences to this work. Thanks to everyone who helped to organize and lead the training, including Lauren Rios, who gave a great presentation on surgical abortion procedures, Rani Tserotas who led the hands-on physical support part of our training, BADP volunteers Sally, Becky, and Kelly who co-facilitated the training, and of course our wonderful co-directors Holly and Poonam!

Here are a few pictures from the training:

Our new trainees participate in a values clarification exercise.


Rani demonstrates a hand massage technique on Holly.


Practicing "breaking the popsicle."

Congratulations to all the new BADP volunteers!