Physicians’ Statement on Planned Parenthood Colorado Springs Attack

On behalf of Physicians, our board chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH, has issued the following statement:

Yesterday our medical community, and our country, were rocked by a heinous act of terrorism against a clinic that provides reproductive health services. As physicians, we stand in solidarity today and every day with our colleagues across the nation.

This campaign of terror — waged over decades against those of us who provide this critical care — is reprehensible and must end. The poisonous environment that incubates this terrorism, and the passivity of elected officials who tolerate it, must end as well.

This morning, our hearts are heavy but our resolve is strong. And this morning, just as we did yesterday morning, doctors, nurses, and clinic staff went to work at reproductive health clinics across our country.

We are there because our conscience compels us to be there. We are there because we see our patients’ need and we must respond. We are there because no act of violence is stronger than an act of compassion. And that is what we do for our patients: we serve them not only with excellent medical care, but with the compassion they deserve. 

Fall 2015 Newsletter: Giving Thanks and Speaking Out

Holiday Greetings from the Staff of Physicians for Reproductive Health!

Physicians for Reproductive Health staff

In this season of recognizing all that we have to be thankful for, we want to extend our deep gratitude to you for your generous and ongoing support:

  • We are grateful for your commitment to quality reproductive health care
  • We are grateful for every email you’ve sent and phone call you’ve made to ensure medicine, not ideology, guides policies that affect women’s health
  • We are grateful for every dollar you’ve contributed, trusting that our physicians will continue to be the very best advocates for patients’ needs

You make it possible for us and our extraordinary network of physicians to advocate all year long for comprehensive reproductive health care for all. We could not do this without your generosity and encouragement. Thank you!

We wish for you and your loved ones a healthy and happy holiday season!

Physicians Welcomes the 2016 Class of Our Leadership Training Academy!

LTA2016forweb.pngThis fall, we welcomed a new class of the Leadership Training Academy, where we train physicians in reproductive health advocacy, giving them the skills, language, and support they need to be effective advocates with policymakers, in the media, and within the medical profession. At 42 fellows, the Class of 2016 is the largest class in the history of the Academy, representing 19 states and the District of Columbia, and four medical specialties: obstetrics/gynecology, family medicine, adolescent medicine, and maternal-fetal medicine.

In October, the fellows visited 44 lawmakers’ offices in Washington, D.C., urging them to support the EACH Woman Act, which would lift insurance coverage restrictions on abortion, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would ensure that pregnant women can continue to safely perform their jobs while supporting their growing families.

Take a look at some of our photos from the day’s activities, and then follow our doctors’ lead: Urge your legislators to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the EACH Woman Act!

Introducing Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta

Physicians for Reproductive Health welcomes Pratima Gupta, MD, MPH, who joined the organization this September as our third Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow, a year-long position with organizational roles in policy, media, medical education, and development activities.

GuptaP.pngDr. Gupta is a former Physicians board member, and an alumna of our Leadership Training Academy, in which she participated in extensive media and advocacy training. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and nearly three-year-old son. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, where she also completed her residency and training in obstetrics/gynecology. She completed the Fellowship in Family Planning at University of California at San Francisco where she first became introduced and deeply involved with Physicians for Reproductive Health. During her fellowship, she earned a Master’s in Public Health from University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on Global Health. Dr. Gupta has presented at regional and international medical conferences on a range of reproductive and sexual health topics. She is also a volunteer medical director with St. James Infirmary, a free clinic for sex workers and transgender individuals in the Bay Area. In addition, she is a member of ACOG District IX’s Legislative Committee and of the California Medical Association committee on legislation.

Her commitment to social justice and community health came to Dr. Gupta early. “My father, who passed away in July, was also an ob/gyn. Throughout his career, he derived constant joy from the practice of medicine,” she says. “Rather than letting the frustrations of increasing regulations or decreasing reimbursement affect him, he inspired me, his staff, and his patients to emphasize equitable health care for all.”

In addition to her father, Dr. Gupta had other influential role models in the medical field. As a member of Medical Students for Choice, she completed an externship with Physicians founding member Dr. William Rashbaum during her fourth year of medical school: “Dr. Rashbaum was the consummate educator and he is why I became an abortion provider. I attempt to channel his wisdom and compassion as I seek to ensure that all women and families have equal access to reproductive health care.”

Dr. Gupta sees advocacy as an outgrowth of her work in medicine, and believes the two are closely intertwined. “I have spoken on the steps of San Francisco City Hall after the passage of the federal abortion ban in 2007 and testified before the California Assembly regarding a bill prohibiting the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women. The strength of sharing my patients’ stories and the authority of the white coat made me realize the power and unique voice I have as a physician-advocate.”

She has hit the ground running in her first few months as Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow, having appeared in multiple news outlets: CNN Online, Mic, Quartz, Common Dreams, and Harvard Health Policy Review. Dr. Gupta also visited offices on the Hill with our Leadership Training Academy in October, building on her belief in speaking truth to power and fostering her skills as a leader in physician advocacy.

Dr. Gupta sees her role at Physicians for Reproductive Health as an opportunity to build on the advocacy skills she gained during the Academy training, to foster physician-advocates for contraception and abortion access, and to work toward furthering sound reproductive health policy at the state and national levels: “My Masters in Public Health work emphasized more upstream determinants of health that affect communities. In clinical medicine, I was making an individual impact with the relationship and care I was giving to my patients. I look forward to my work as Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow, because I see advocacy as being a similar upstream model in which I can affect the health of communities via policy.”

Doctors In the News

A New Way to Show Your Support!

Reproductive Health Raisers

Reproductive Health Raisers is an exciting new fundraising campaign that is all about you. Running in a marathon? Biking across your city? Celebrating an important day in your life – a birthday, wedding, or graduation? Turn a fun activity or celebration into valuable support for our programs and advocacy work. Learn more about how you can become a Reproductive Health Raiser today!


Dr. Willie Parker in the New York Times: “If I Don’t, Who Will?”

Dr. Willie ParkerWe are extremely proud to share a powerful example of the dedicated and courageous physician-advocates we have the honor to work with and support.

In today’s New York Times, our board chair-elect Dr. Willie Parker wrote a moving op-ed about why he felt compelled to return home to the American South to provide abortion care. In this piece, he talks about the stark realities his patients face, and how their need for safe, compassionate reproductive health care is both urgent and under attack:

I stopped doing obstetrics in 2009 to provide abortion full time for women who needed help. Invariably I field questions regarding my decision, with the most often asked being: Why? The short answer is: Because I can. And: Because if I don’t, who will?

The piece highlights how hard it is for women in this country, especially those of color and living in poverty, to obtain abortion care. Restrictive state-laws are being implemented at a rapid rate, creating unnecessary and harmful obstacles to care. Heroic and dedicated doctors like Dr. Parker are doing all they can, under circumstances not seen anywhere else in medicine, to respond to their patients’ needs.

If Dr. Parker’s op-ed today inspired you, we hope you will take the time to add your voice in support of access to safe and legal abortion care by participating in our “Why I Provide/Why I Support” video project. Read more about how you can submit a video here

Highly Effective and Low-Maintenance: Spreading LARC Awareness

Dr. Pratima GuptaLARC Awareness Week is November 15-21. Our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta discusses why long-acting reversible contraceptives are a great option.

After being plagued by with a bad reputation and lack of awareness, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are finally gaining much-deserved momentum. The Guttmacher Institute recently reported that U.S. women are increasingly turning to highly effective LARC methods—particularly intrauterine devices (IUDs). According to the report, the IUD and the contraceptive implant use increased from about 9% in 2009 to nearly 12% in 2012.

As a physician, I can personally vouch for the fact that IUDs are the most popular method of birth control used by family planning practitioners — we know firsthand about their safety profile and efficacy. With failure rates of less than 1% per year, LARCs are the most effective reversible methods available.

Most women are excellent IUD candidates, regardless of age or whether they’ve had children or not. And depending on what IUD option they choose, they don’t need to worry about birth control for three, five, or 10 years.

Despite all of this great news, those of us who work in reproductive health and family planning still have to counter the misinformation, especially about IUDs, on a regular basis. Sometimes a patient will tell me that she’s interested in getting an IUD but that a friend told her that they were dangerous, or that she heard only women who have had kids can use them. I always explain what I know to be true: IUDs are safe and effective and appropriate for women of all ages.

The implant (Nexplanon®) is a popular method with my younger patients, which isn’t a surprise. In one large contraceptive study, over 40% of those surveyed under 18 opted for the implant. Smaller than a matchstick, it is discreet and hidden under the skin of the inner arm. It is an easy two-minute insertion that feels like getting a shot and doesn’t require a pelvic exam. It has the lowest failure rate of any form of contraception — 0.05% — and works for three years.

LARCs are fantastic—they’re highly effective and low-maintenance. But I always tell my patients that the best birth control method for them is the one that they choose for themselves—and the one they feel most comfortable using. That’s why we discuss all the options available, the full range of contraceptive methods, including LARC methods.

If you are a health care practitioner looking to learn more about LARC, here are some great resources: