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ASPIRE Achievements

Professional Education and Training

Get Real Post-Roe Expansion Project Phase 2

We have completed Phase 1 of the Get Real Post-Roe Expansion Project, the objective of which was to identify locations where PPLM’s Get Real and Professional Training Institute could concentrate efforts to expand the use of our comprehensive Get Real middle and high school sex ed curricula and other professional education and training opportunities. Part of Phase 1 was conducting a 50-state analysis of abortion bans, sex education restrictions, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-CRT laws, and existing Get Real presence. Using this data, we developed a “sex ed policy score” to determine to which states we could focus our efforts. We are calling these locations “high impact states” – which is to say states that are experiencing the greatest threats to sexual and reproductive health access, and where comprehensive sex education is still accessible and could have the most impact.

Now that this research stage is complete, we are turning our attention to Phase 2. We have contracted with a firm to utilize the data from Phase I and identify key stakeholders in the eight high impact states of Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, beginning first with Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In collaboration with ETR, SEICUS, Advocates for Youth, and PPFA, a strategic communications plan and marketing tools will be created to begin outreach to introduce and/or expand comprehensive sex education in states with abortion restrictions.


ASPIRE  team members reached new milestones with 9 publications in 2023, breaking our personal record for number of publications in a single year!

Clinical Research

We recently launched the Self-Cerv study, a collaboration with TealHealth. The study aims to assess the effectiveness of a new device that allows people to self-collect their cervical cancer screening (pap smear).

Professional Education

Our fellows analyzed all 50 states and DC for their support for or restrictions of abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, critical race theory, social emotional learning, and sex education. Using national resources such as SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change and GLSEN, they created a score of a state’s support for and ease of access to comprehensive sex education.

The goal of this project was to identify trends in abortion access and sex education across the nation in a post-Dobbs environment. This fact sheet uses the Guttmacher abortion access score to contextualize the PPLM-developed sex education score.

Clinical Training

Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Advance Practice Clinician Sexual and Reproductive Health Residency program will launch in January 2024 as the first-ever SRH Residency Program for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. This full-time, 2-year residency program will provide an NP or PA with the opportunity to build their clinical skills and knowledge to provide high-quality SRH care to diverse populations, as well as build a pipeline of experienced APCs in Massachusetts.

Professional Education

In September 2023, the Professional Education team received a federal grant to evaluate the Get Real high school sex ed curriculum. This is a $5M, 5-year evaluation in partnership with Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio, who will be implementing the curriculum in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. After the 5-year evaluation period, PPLM will publish the results and ideally, Get Real high school will be added to the US Health and Human Services’ List of Evidence-based Programs for Teen Pregnancy Prevention. This 5-year effort will increase access to high-quality, comprehensive sex education for young people across the country, contributing to decisions they make around their own health and safety. 

Legal Research

With a grant from PPFA’s Health Care Investment Program, the Legal Research team launched the Minor Abortion Access Research and Advocacy Project (MAARAP), which evaluates the abortion rights of minors across all 50 states, with a specific focus on how parental involvement laws, travel bans, and shield laws interact.

This project is PPLM’s first work in legal research under the expertise of MaryRose Mazzola, the Director of ASPIRE and an attorney with more than 10 years of research experience. The findings of this project will be shared with PPAF’s advocacy team, other Planned Parenthood affiliates, and advocates across the country. 

Social Science Research

Number of out-of-state travelers seeking abortions at Mass. Planned Parenthood grew 37% after Dobbs.” - Boston Globe  

A new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the ASPIRE Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, showed the number of patients from out of state seeking abortion care in Massachusetts grew an estimated 37.5% in the first four months after the Dobbs decision compared with what would have been expected had Roe v. Wade not been reversed. 

Legal Research

Affiliates of the ASPIRE Center presented at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Baltimore, MD, October 2023 on barriers that minors face when trying to access care in the post-Dobbs environment.

Professional Education

Supporters of sex ed bill say it's time for Massachusetts to act”  - WGBH 

Education, Learning and Engagement Vice President, Jennifer Hart is quoted on her support of the Healthy Youth Act, "Young people across the country witness their rights and access to care and education eroding before their eyes," Hart said. "Passing the Healthy Youth Act is one way we can step up right now to ensure that our youth today, tomorrow and in the future have the access and the means to make the best decisions for their own health and safety."

The creation of the sex ed score by PPLM researchers could help influence lawmakers to pass this bill. The Healthy Youth Act would mandate that if schools offer sex ed, the curriculum must provide a medically accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual health education.


Clinical Research

PPLM’s research team presented three abstracts at the 2023 meeting of the National Abortion Federation: 

  •  The impact of intimate partner violence on abortion method choice presented by Dr. Lauren Sobel, BWH/PPLM Complex Family Planning fellowship graduate 2022 

  • hCG trends after mifepristone and misoprostol for undesired pregnancy of unknown location presented by: Dr. Sonya Bhardawa, Harvard Medical School graduate 2022, current OBGYN intern at Northwestern 

  • Rates and predictors of mifepristone use for first and second trimester abortion among OB/GYN physicians in Massachusetts presented by Dr. Sara Neill, BWH/PPLM Complex Family Planning fellowship graduate 2021. 

Professional Education

ASPIRE team members MaryRose Mazzola and Hilary Towle were invited to present a pre-conference workshop at the National Sex Ed Conference in Atlantic City, NJ, in December 2023. Their workshop, titled “Expanding Comprehensive Sex Education in Abortion Ban States,” will discuss the findings of ASPIRE’s national landscape analysis of sex ed access and strategies for expanding sex ed in abortion ban states.

Social Science Research

Elizabeth Janiak, ScD will be presenting at FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Paris, France, in October 2023 on the “Impact of Abortion Bans on Interstate Travel and Travel Experiences for Abortion: Initial Impact of the Dobbs Decision in an Abortion-Supportive US State.

Clinical Research

Youri Hwang PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, a Research Advanced Practice Clinician at PPLM, received a competitive Society for Family Planning research grant to study IUD experience and social network at PPLM. This research aims to investigate the impact of social networks on the decision-making process of women who discontinue intrauterine devices (IUDs) due to changes in bleeding and cramping. The study addresses the gap in research by exploring how social context and networks, including family, friends, and social media sources, influence women’s understanding of side effects and their decision-making processes regarding IUD use.  


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