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This week Spain decriminalized abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The government enacted the law over the strenuous opposition of the Roman Catholic Church and brings Spain’s abortion law in line with much of the rest of Europe. Minors of 16 and 17 can obtain abortions without parental consent and in some cases notification. This is a major victory for women, which we hope to replicate in the former Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere.
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Support IPPF's mobile health clinics and teams in Haiti!
(with thanks to Beth Kanter)
Photo from International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region showing the complete devastation of its PROFAMIL Haiti clinic.

PROFAMIL Haiti has provided sexual and reproductive health services in Haiti since 1984. This organization is part of a 40 member 40 member organization network called International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR). The program in Haiti has three clinics, but the ones in Port-au-Prince, and Jacmel were completely destroyed by the earthquake as you can see by the photo above.

Laura Zaks, Public Affairs Coordinator, shared with me this sad story of devastation and the urgent need for funds to help PROFAMIL resume services through a temporary static clinic and Mobile Health Units to deliver services in tent cities where displaced persons have gathered.

1. How did the earthquake impact PROFAMIL Haiti's work?

PROFAMIL's clinics in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel have been destroyed, although a small amount of equipment and supplies has been salvaged. Unfortunately, many supplies remain trapped in building rubble with conditions too dangerous to access, particularly in light of the aftershocks. In addition, one staff member, the Director of Finance and acting Executive Director has passed away and at least several staff members have been injured, though a full report on the health and well-being of all staff and their families in both cities has not yet been received.

2. What's needed to rebuild the program?

IPPF/WHR has put together a proposal for funding from various donor sources totaling $2,500,000. This is based on the immediate needs over the next three to six months for human resources, site operations/communications and logistical support, transportation, and medical and surgical supplies.

Given the lack of physical clinics in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel and with the structural integrity of standing buildings uncertain, PROFAMIL is coordinating to offer basic primary health care and sexual and reproductive health services via several modalities, including:

• PROFAMILIA in the Dominican Republic has been coordinating with partners in deploying mobile health unit teams across the border to Haiti to conduct an initial assessment of key areas of need and to begin providing health services. Currently, the majority of international assistance is concentrated in Port-au-Prince, with many unmet health demands in the areas surrounding Leogame, Matrissals, Jacmel, Petit Goave and Grand Goave. These mobile health unit teams, consisting of medical doctors, nurses, and volunteer staff, have extensive experience in working with Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic.

• PROFAMIL staff and community health promoters in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince will organize mobile health units to bring primary health care, obstetric care, family planning and HIV prevention services to community-based sites, including tent cities and other temporary shelters that have been set up in and around both cities.

• Though its physical clinics in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel are too damaged to resume operations, PROFAMIL will seek to establish temporary service provision facilities in fixed physical structures only as appropriate and based on structural assessments of their safety.

3. How can people contribute?

We have set up a donate page on our website where secure donations can be made from any country. 100% of the money collected through this site will go towards getting PROFAMIL's clinics and mobile health units up and working as soon as possible. The link is: and it is also accessible from the IPPF/WRH homepage:

4. Are you using social media to get the word out?

Yes, we have been using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out to contacts there. We have been posting updates periodically on these sites to share news and photos as well as the link to our donation page. We can be found on Facebook at: and on twitter at:

We also have an online advocacy center: We have mobilized our online membership from this center by sending two appeals asking for donations. We will continue to update our membership as we receive further news from our partners on the ground.

5. Please describe to my readers the connection between sexual reproductive health services and poverty reduction.

PROFAMIL's work has always been closely linked to poverty reduction efforts within Haiti. This brief
gives a good picture in the link between sexual reproductive healthcare and poverty reduction. Haiti is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the Western Hemisphere. Infant and maternal mortality rates are the region's highest, and Haiti's devastating HIV/AIDS rate is second in the world only to Sub-Saharan Africa. 2006 data indicates that only 28% of the population uses modern contraceptives. Less than one-half of all births are attended by a skilled health professional.

PROFAMIL is one of Haiti's largest nongovernmental sexual and reproductive health providers. Its clinics, community distribution points, and mobile health units provide hundreds of thousands of sexual and reproductive healthcare services annually. For 25 years, PROFAMIL has provided low-cost, high-quality healthcare services including family planning, early detection of breast and cervical cancer, pre-and-post natal services, and voluntary testing and counselling for HIV/AIDS. In rural areas, a network of health promoters and mobile health clinics provide family planning and basic health care-often the only healthcare available in these remote communities. They recently inaugurated new clinics in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, to better serve their increasing patient base. Given the massive socio-economic and health care challenges facing the country, PROFAMIL's work has been and will continue to be tremendously important in future development efforts in the country. The stories from the field that I pointed to above further reinforce this connection between PROFAMIL and poverty reduction efforts in Haiti.

Also note that International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) has a four-star rating from Charity:Navigator
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Alexander Sanger
Alexander C. Sanger, the grandson of Margaret Sanger, who founded the birth control movement over eighty years ago, is currently Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.
Mr. Sanger previously served as the President of Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and its international arm, The Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) for ten years from 1991 - 2000.

Mr. Sanger speaks around the country and the world and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund.

Beyond Choice
Beyond Choice
The new book by Alexander Sanger published by PublicAffairs

Purchase from

Click here for full book information

With reproductive freedom in jeopardy, Alexander Sanger, grandson of renowned family planning advocate Margaret Sanger and a longtime leader in the reproductive rights movement, has taken an urgent, fresh look at the pro-choice position—and even the pro-life position—and finds them necessary, but insufficient. In Beyond Choice he offers the first major re-thinking of these positions in thirty years.

“Well researched and readable, Beyond Choice should be required reading for both pro-choice and pro-life supporters.”
—Governor Christine Todd Whitman


» Much more on Beyond Choice, including an excerpt, discussion guides, reviews
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Jamie Smith, The Daily Vidette

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Dahlia Weinstein, Rocky Mountain News
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External Links
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» When Sex Counts: Making Babies and Making Law, by Sherry Colb