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RHAP Team 2021 Reflection

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As we wrap up 2021, the RHAP team wants to send everyone a heartfelt thank you for being by our side during this challenging year. In this time of uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Since January 2021, 106 abortion restrictions have been enacted in 19 states, including 12 outright abortion bans – more than any other year since Roe v. Wade. This includes draconian measures such as SB8 in Texas, as well as copycat bills springing up in other states. We also await a Supreme Court decision in Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs, a 15-week ban out of Mississippi that is likely to overturn Roe, further widening the gaps in access based on which state you live in. The road ahead will be challenging, and we will have to be adaptable to the true needs of clinicians and patients on the ground. Regardless of what the future holds, we know that the only way to face it is together.  

Our organization, as a whole, has gone through numerous transitions this year. Adapting our work to the pandemic has improved how we connect virtually and across distances, and has broadened our ability to do work as a national organization. On August 31, 2021, we officially closed our in-person office. We’re now a 100% remote organization, and we’ve hired new team members from across the country to strengthen our national presence! 

Another huge transition began when our Executive Director, Lisa Maldonado, took her much deserved sabbatical in the fall. All employees working full time for seven years at RHAP can take a sabbatical leave of 10 weeks of paid time off. Silpa Srinivasulu and Laura Riker have temporarily stepped in as Interim Co-Executive Directors, and will lead our team into the new year with Lisa returning in January 2022. Lisa has shared her experience in her own article which can be found above

RHAP’s co-founder and former Medical Director, Dr. Linda Prine, retired from RHAP on March 31, 2021, to make room for new clinical leaders. RHAP’s clinical leadership now consists of seven clinician experts who consult with us in various ways: our three-member Clinical Committee who serve as our clinical guides, Ruth Lesnewski, MD, Samantha Hyacinth, MSN, WHNP-BC, and Angeline Ti, MD, MPH, and; our four-person Regional Clinical Leader (RCL) mentorship team of Maya Bass, MD, MA, Dalia Brahmi, MD, MPH, Moira Rashid, MD, MPH and Catherine Romanos, MD, FAAFP. The Clinical Committee ensures that our clinical tools, resources, and training programs reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence, the highest quality of care, address emerging issues and technologies, and are in alignment with our organizational mission and values. The RCL team provides in-depth mentorship and support to clinician advocates in the Network who are mobilizing within the American Academy of Family Physicians to make reproductive healthcare and social justice a priority.  

This continued to be a big year for the Reproductive Health Access Network, our national community of more than 5,300 clinician activists. In 2021 alone, the Network increased by nearly 15% and hosted 98 events! Although we miss in-person conferences, virtual platforms have enabled our leaders to connect regionally and nationally for peer support and professional development opportunities including our Advanced Practice Clinician (APC) Cluster. As a collaborative effort, The APC Cluster hosted a virtual panel on developments in telemedicine abortion care featuring speakers from organizations like Just the Pill, Choix, Plan C, and others. We’re also proud to share that our newest cluster in Texas met for the first time in early November, strategizing and setting goals for their organizing, advocacy, and clinical training. In the coming years, we hope to expand to Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and beyond. Our goal is to provide our national network of clinicians with the resources they need to advocate for and provide reproductive health care, no matter where they are. 

Our Reproductive Health Care and Advocacy Fellowship continued to get stronger in the past year, as our two newer sites in Michigan and New Jersey entered their second year. The pandemic did create training challenges for our fellows, but the shift to virtual work allowed us to create an online national fellowship learning community that supplements their onsite clinical training with virtual training in advocacy and leadership. In Michigan, where there is a pre-Roe abortion ban on the books, we’ve started collaborating with partner organizations to coordinate abortion training rotations out-of-state, should the state prohibit or severely limit abortion care.

We are also in the final stages of the strategic planning process we began in 2020, to focus our work and ensure that we are meeting the needs of clinicians and patients across the country in this rapidly shifting landscape of access. As part of that process, we are ensuring that a racial justice lens is integrated into our organizational structures, vision, mission, and programs. As a team we continue to reflect deeply on what it takes to be anti-racist, and how we can and must do better. We discuss issues of inequity and racial injustice, uplift the efforts and work of Black-led justice organizations, participate in more coalitions led by BIPOC partners, and issue statements that clearly outline our beliefs as an organization. Our board and staff members have also collaborated to create an Equity Team to evaluate and transform RHAP’s policies and practices, and hold us accountable to our values. 

Regardless of what the future holds, the Reproductive Health Access Project remains firm in our mission to expand access to reproductive health care for everyone, everywhere. We are unwavering in our belief that every person should be able to access comprehensive reproductive health care  – including abortion, contraception, and miscarriage care – in their own communities, free from any restrictions, barriers, or stigma.

In Solidarity,

Silpa Srinivasulu, MPH (she/her)
Interim Co-Executive Director
Director of Programs and Evaluation
National Fellowship Director

Laura Riker, MSSW (she/they)
Interim Co- Executive Director
Director of Organizing and Advocacy

Kallie McLoughlin (she/her)
Operations Coordinator

Victoria Keehn, MA (she/her)
Manager of Individual Giving

Hailey Broughton-Jones, BA (she/her)
Senior Organizer

Lily Trotta (she/they)
Organizer

Brandy Bautista (she/her)
Program Coordinator

Khashae (Shae) Jackson (she/her)
Organizing and Communications Associate 

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