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PPLM Social Science Research on Interstate Travel for Abortion Post-Dobbs

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Our Mission

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.

our achievements

ASPIRE CENTER PROGRAMS 

Clinical Research

The clinical research program at PPLM is led by Alisa Goldberg, MD, MPH. PPLM’s clinical research has focused on improving the quality of and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. Clinical research themes have included: expanding abortion access while maintaining  safety and efficacy; expanding access to contraception, mitigating contraceptive side effects and developing new methods and improving pain control during abortion and IUD procedures.  

PPLM partners with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to co-host the Complex Family Planning Fellowship Program. Research projects designed by Fellows, under the mentorship of Dr. Goldberg and conducted at PPLM, have been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences.

Through ASPIRE, we will further expand our clinical research program to include studies that have potential to increase access to cervical cancer screening and timely diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. We hope to elevate both the research and researchers in the field, and to act as a launching pad for research trainees and research agendas alike.

Clinical Training 

PPLM provides numerous clinical training opportunities through partnerships with local academic institutions and organizations such as Medical Students for Choice and Upstream. Our trainings focus on long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) training and medical and surgical abortion.

In January 2024, PPLM will launch a sexual and reproductive health residency program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, which is the first of its kind at PPLM. Since abortion access has been severely limited or banned in more than half the states in the country, PPLM is among the list of high access states that that have seen demand to increase availability of effective birth control LARC training, and we expect the demand to increase. Under ASPIRE, PPLM aims to expand our ability to deliver these trainings. 

Legal Research

In order to meet the moment of the post-Dobbs landscape and its impact on abortion access, ASPIRE has launched a legal research team under the direction of ASPIRE Center Director MaryRose Mazzola, Esq. ASPIRE’s legal research portfolio to date has focused on increasing sexual and reproductive health access and equity, especially abortion access, for young people and other historically marginalized populations.

The legal research arm of the ASPIRE Center will also take on novel legal issues to address in the wake of the Dobbs decision and subsequent state bans, such as how shield laws function in practice, how minors and other marginalized populations are specifically targeted by restrictive laws, and how mid- and high-access states can further protect and expand access for those who must travel for care, especially those traveling from abortion deserts.

The ASPIRE Center will partner with our External Affairs team to share this research with other affiliates, advocacy groups, and elected officials. 

Professional Education 

The Professional Education and Training team within PPLM’s Education, Learning and Engagement department trains teachers, nurses, social workers, and other professionals who work with youth and recognize PPLM as a trusted source of information on topics of sexual health. Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education That Works is the PPLM-authored middle and high school curriculum and the only Planned Parenthood sex education curriculum for middle school included on the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) list of evidence-based programs due to its proven effectiveness.

Since the launch of ASPIRE, the Professional Education and Training team has focused on a 50-state analysis of the sexual education landscape and produced a sex ed score ranking states on their access to comprehensive, inclusive, and medically accurate sex education. Through ASPIRE, the Professional Training and Education team works to deliver the Get Real middle and high school curricula in abortion hostile states and expand the use of Get Real in partner states.

Recently, the team was awarded a $5M, 5-year grant from the HHS Office of Population Affairs to implement a rigorous impact evaluation of the Get Real high school curriculum.

 

Social Science Research

The social science research program led by Elizabeth Janiak, ScD, PPLM’s is one of only six in the Planned Parenthood Federation and is affiliated with BWH and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The focus of this program has spanned many topics, but emerging research themes include young people’s access to abortion, being explored through the QuEast study, which examines the impact of abortion bans on young people with multiple marginalized identities traveling out of state to receive abortion care.

Other themes include the effects of abortion stigma, gender diverse patients’ SRH needs, and the intersection of substance use and sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Janiak’s research on how young people of color are disproportionately affected by Massachusetts’ parental consent law was instrumental in the passage of the 2020 ROE Act, which codified abortion rights in Massachusetts. The social science research program works in collaboration with the ASPIRE Center to understand the critical factors that affect health equity and access to care and to have a greater impact on the national landscape of sexual and reproductive health care and advocacy. 

Our most recent publications:

Keefe-Oates B, Fulcher I, Fortin J, Goldberg AB, Chen JT, Gottlieb B, Janiak E. Use of Abortion Services in Massachusetts After the Dobbs Decision Among In-State vs Out-of-State Residents. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 09 05; 6(9):e2332400. PMID: 37672274; PMCID: PMC10483311. Citations: Fields: MedTranslation:Humans (Read here)

Neill S, Mokashi M, Goldberg A, Fortin J, Janiak E. Mifepristone use for early pregnancy loss: A qualitative study of barriers and facilitators among OB/GYNS in Massachusetts, USA. Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2023 09; 55(3):210-217. PMID: 37394759. Citations: Fields: FamTranslation:HumansPH (Read here)

Neill S, Hoe E, Fortin J, Goldberg AB, Janiak E. Management of early pregnancy loss among obstetrician-gynecologists in Massachusetts and barriers to mifepristone use. Contraception. 2023 10; 126:110108. PMID: 37394110. (Read here)

ASPIRE Advisory Council

Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, Ph.D., MPH: Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab / Tufts University School of Medicine​

Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH: New England Gender C.A.R.E. Consortium / Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health​

Debra Christopher, MSM: Education, Training & Research Associates​

Susan S. Fish, Pharm D, MPH: Boston University School of Public Health​

Lissette Gil-Sanchez: Acting Director of the Office of Sexual Health and Youth Development at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Kimya Harris: Co-founder and CEO of TriCan Health

Patti Kraft, Esq.​

Linette Liebling, M.S.P.H: Wheaton College / Public Health Consultant​

Megan Mays, DNP, WHNP: The Medical Affairs Company

Lindsay McNair, MD, MPH, MS: WIRB-Copernicus / Boston University School of Public Health​

Abha Singhal: The Chirag Foundation​

Elaine Smith 

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ASPIRE Center

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