Connect with us
  • Advertisement
  • Health

    Interview with Social Workers for Reproductive Justice Maggie Rosenbloom

    Published

    on

    I recently had the opportunity to interview Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW founder of Social Workers for Reproductive Justice. SWRJ is a budding organization working to uphold the National Association of Social Works Code of Ethics by advocating for reproductive justice. Maggie will also be our guest for Social Work Chats on Monday March 25th.

    Can you tell us about Social Workers for Reproductive Justice?

    It’s still in its development stages but we want to be an organization that fosters knowledge of reproductive health issues for social workers. Our mission statement is: Educating social workers to advocate for reproductive justice and promote client self-determination in reproductive health care options. We use the term reproductive justice as it has been described by groups like Sister Song to mean the right to have children, to not have children and to parent the children we do have in a safe environment.

    Although other professional reproductive justice groups exist for physicians, lawyers and nurses, no such organization for social workers has been established to date. While the National Association of Social Workers has policies that support reproductive health services that include abortion, it has done little to educate social workers on the importance of full-spectrum family planning or to advocate for increased abortion access in the United States. I hope that SWRJ can fill that gap.

    How did SWRJ get started?

    It was an idea I had for an assignment in my Resource Development class during my last semester of the MSW program. It was to do strategic planning either for an existing agency or to come up with an idea for an agency of our own. My first field education internship for my Master of Social Work program was at a low-barrier emergency homeless shelter for women that was run by a faith-based agency. The agencies policies stated that employees and interns of the agency were prohibited to discuss contraception and abortion with the shelter residents, and were actively discouraged from referring clients who may have asked for such resources to outside agencies. SWRJ came out of that conflict I saw between social work practice at some agencies and the NASW Code of Ethics; particularly, the section on client self-determination. I had been involved with reproductive justice movement and had worked for the National Abortion Federation hotline, was aware of DC Abortion Fund and knew of groups like Med Students for Choice and saw that there was not a relative group for social workers. After completing the assignment and receiving my MSW I continued to work on the development of this organization.

    What are your goals for SWRJ?

    The goals are twofold 1. To educate social workers about reproductive health including abortion access and 2. To motivate social workers to advocate for reproductive justice and social equality. I want to develop a Standards of Care in Reproductive and Sexual Health for Social Workers that NASW can endorse. I also want SWRJ to develop continuing education workshops on reproductive health and family planning for continuing education units for social workers and work to develop curriculum for Schools of Social Work so they can include family planning information in classes and create a forum for social workers to discuss any legal or ethical issues that arise in their practice related to reproductive health. I hope that SWRJ can work with NASW, and other relevant organizations, to hold accredited social work schools responsible for the omission of such courses and work toward a uniform expectation that social workers will be responsible to allow their clients freedom in the full range of reproductive health options available.

    What has the response been from social workers and social work organizations?

    Very encouraging and supportive. There are already social workers and students focusing on reproductive justice and doing research. And I’ve spoken with a lot of social workers and students who have had similar questions about working at agencies that they felt had policies that went against the NASW ethical imperative for client self-determination.

    I have been working with a dedicated group of 20 social workers, including students and faculty, from DC to Hawaii who have been volunteering their time to assist in the development of this organization. Many of them are well known in the reproductive justice field, and all are passionate individuals willing to donate their time and resources to establishing a national organization and state chapters and school chapters for students.

    What is social works role in the reproductive justice movement? How does this fit into the code of ethics?

    For me the issue has always come down to self-determination. The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (2008) states that social workers are ethically obligated to respect their clients’ right to self-determination in decision-making. However, some social workers refuse to provide evidenced-based information to their clients for family planning and abortion services to their clients based on their personal beliefs. Additionally, the Council on Social Work Education, the body responsible for accrediting schools of social work, regularly accredits schools that teach biased and nonscientific policies on reproductive health and family planning. To my knowledge, there is no campaign to only accredit schools of social work that adhere to the NASW code of ethics for issues of sexual and reproductive health.

    Omitting such important issues as reproductive health and justice from social work curriculum harms the mission of the profession. SWRJ will improve social work’s commitment to social justice by seeking to make reproductive health a mandatory aspect of social work curricula with the goal of producing social workers who are knowledgeable about the breadth of reproductive health issues that affect their clients.

    Is SWRJ working on any projects or campaigns that you can discuss here?

    Right now we are just in our start-up phase, but hope to be registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in the coming year.

    How can social workers get involved?

    They can find our contact information on our website www.swrj.org  and follow us on twitter at @socialworkersrj. They can also make sure to raise the issue of reproductive justice with their colleagues and in their classrooms!

    Update: Below is the link to the transcript from Social Work Chats with SWRJ.

    [View the story “Social Workers For Reproductive Justice” on Storify]

    Get Free E-Book Download
    Gratitude: Self-Care Strategies for Life and Work
    Subscribe
    After confirmation, our free e-book download will be emailed to you...unsubscribe anytime

    Rachel L. West is the Founder of the Political Social Worker, a blog dedicated to macro social work and politics. She holds a BA in History from SUNY Stony Brook and an MSW from Adelphi University. She is a community outreach and engagement specialist. Rachel resides in New York State, and she is available as a consultant and coach. You can find out more about Rachel at The Political Social Worker at (politicalsocialworker.org).

    15 Comments

    15 Comments

    1. Cyndee Huston Saporito Waller

      April 27, 2014 at 2:14 am

      Part of our job is to allow them self determination and to talk with them about different possible outcomes and to educate. They only way someone can make a truly informed decision is to know what us actually happening both to the mother and the living human inside of her.

    2. Cyndee Huston Saporito Waller

      April 27, 2014 at 2:11 am

      I agree with the idea of this and knowledge is very important. Including the knowledge of how abortions are done and what really happens. One of the reasons I am becoming a social worker is because I’m for equal rights for all, born and unborn. I do not believe that one life is more important than the other. We as social workers are suppose to value all humans.

    3. swhelper.org

      March 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      RT @poliSW: This is an interview Maggie did with SWH last week #swunited

    4. SocWorkReproJustice

      March 25, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      RT @poliSW: This is an interview Maggie did with SWH last week #swunited

    5. Rachel West

      March 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      This is an interview Maggie did with SWH last week #swunited

    6. Podsocs

      March 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      SW and reproductive justice

    7. Rachel West

      March 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      RT @SocialWorkersRJ: check out this awesome interview @SocialWorkersRJ Founder, Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW, did with @swhelpercom #SWRJ…

    8. swhelper.org

      March 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      RT @SocialWorkersRJ: check out this awesome interview @SocialWorkersRJ Founder, Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW, did with @swhelpercom #SWRJ…

    9. SocWorkReproJustice

      March 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      check out this awesome interview @SocialWorkersRJ Founder, Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW, did with @swhelpercom #SWRJ…

    10. Daniel Roberts

      March 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      I agree that self determination is important and sw’ers need to allow clients to make their own choices. However, we also have an obligation and a legal mandate to report abuse or any threats to harm another. Protecting those who are unable to defend themselves is an important part of social work ethics. Promoting abortion as a viable option is denying life to those that least can defend themselves. Science has shown that an unborn fetus is indeed living. Courts have charged people with manslaughter and murder of unborn babies. How can social workers ethically support abortion which is the killing of a baby? As mandated reporters of abuse supporting abortion goes against NASW ethics.

    11. SocWorkReproJustice

      March 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      RT @poliSW: Thank you @SocialWorkersRJ – Interview with Social Workers for Reproductive Justice… #socialwork

    12. swhelper.org

      March 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      RT @SocialWorkersRJ: Check out our interview with @poliSW in @swhelpercom – Interview with SWRJ

    13. Annie

      March 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      RT @SocialWorkersRJ: Check out our interview with @poliSW in @swhelpercom – Interview with SWRJ

    14. SocWorkReproJustice

      March 21, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Check out our interview with @poliSW in @swhelpercom – Interview with SWRJ

    15. Rachel West

      March 21, 2013 at 12:26 am

      Thank you @SocialWorkersRJ – Interview with Social Workers for Reproductive Justice… #socialwork

    You must be logged in to post a comment Login

    Leave a Reply

    Health

    The Case for Ending the Anonymity of Egg & Sperm Donations in the United States

    Published

    on

    Egg and sperm donations in the United States have long proceeded under the cloak of secrecy. Twenty-five years ago, when I first started interviewing patients who used donors to conceive a child, many intended parents struggled with whether eventually to tell their child about the nature of his or her conception. While some professionals in the fertility industry advised that this was a parent’s personal decision, others encouraged disclosure, and still others recommended never telling a child how they were conceived. The last approach dovetailed with the industry standard that required donor anonymity. In subsequent years, my research has led me to conclude that mandatory donor anonymity is problematic – not only for the children conceived with donor help, but also for donors themselves and the people who created their families with donor assistance.

    After a boom in the late 1980s and 1990s, the use of donor sperm and eggs continues to expand in the United States – and increasing numbers of donor-conceived adults are going to want access to their biological information, including access to the identities of the people who helped create them. The United Kingdom has abolished donor anonymity. Why has the United States not followed suit?

    How Does Anonymity Affect Donors and Donor-Conceived Children?

    Many professionals in the fertility industry maintain that mandatory open donor identity would reduce the number of people willing to come forward to provide eggs and sperm. In countries that have national registries and have abolished donor anonymity, these fears have not borne out. In the United Kingdom, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority reports that the number of sperm donors has increased since anonymity was banned; and since ending donor anonymity, Australia and Sweden have also seen increases in donors volunteering.

    In the United States, given that donors are compensated – indeed, egg donors are substantially compensated – the financial incentive alone is enough to ensure that people will still come forward to provide gametes for other people’s children, even if their identity is revealed to the children born from their gametes. Many donors prefer an end to anonymity. In my current research project, I have to date interviewed over 90 donors and collected 190 online surveys. Only a handful of egg donors, I find, want to remain anonymous in perpetuity – yet the majority reported they were told anonymity was their only option.

    Many sperm and egg donors go to great lengths to meet their genetic children, turning to DNA tests, online registries, and ancestry websites in their searches. Meanwhile, the first generation of children conceived via banked sperm or donated eggs are now young adults, who have their own feelings about donor conception and their own desires for forging connection, or not, with their donors. Some experienced emotional fall-out from being told later in their childhood they were donor-conceived or discovering it themselves after having the truth was concealed for of their lives.

    In my conversations with donor-conceived people, those who seemed most at ease were told at a young age and continued to hear their conception story as they matured. People who were told as adolescents or later, or discovered the “secret” on their own, report feeling a sense of betrayal at having been lied to by the parents they were supposed to be able to trust. For families who decided not to inform their donor-conceived children, the secrecy appears to have been largely rooted in the stigma and shame many people feel about infertility and the inability to have a biological child.

    Dealing with the Downsides of Anonymity Falls to Individuals

    In a quest for identity, many donor-conceived adults report using a combination of techniques to find their donors. Some sign up on registries, such as the Donor Sibling Registry. This service charges a $200 lifetime fee for donors and donor-conceived people to sign up and search for matches, using the donor identification numbers that clinics, sperm banks, or egg donation agencies assign. Others have turned to free online sites – such as donorconception.com – that help donors, donor-siblings, and donor-conceived children find each other by combining donor information, direct-to-consumer genetic tests, and ancestry registries.

    Essentially, anonymity is already obsolete; U.S. policy simply has not caught up with modern technology. The rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing increases the likelihood of donor-conceived children finding their genetic parents, whether the donor wants that to happen or not. If anyone in a donor’s family does a test and registers on a website like ancestry.com, chances are good a donor-conceived child can find them. While such consumer testing and ancestry sites do raise privacy concerns about the public availability of genetic information, they make it virtually assured that anyone can be found.

    The Need for a Donor Registry

    Many fertility industry professionals have voiced concerns about how a registry would function given U.S. patient privacy law. The industry’s fear that registries reduce donors has not borne out in other countries that have implemented them. And by now, offering anonymity as an option misleads prospective donors into believing that their privacy can be guaranteed, when it cannot. With anonymity increasingly a non-viable option, it is time to consider establishing a national registry for egg and sperm donors. Not only would such a registry make it easier for people to find biological kin, it could also provide other advantages:

    • A registry could keep track of the number of live births per donor in the same geographic area, to reduce the risk of unions between donor-conceived biological siblings.
    • For egg donors, a registry could track completed egg donation cycles to reduce the risk of donors going through more cycles than is considered safe.
    • A registry would allow researchers to track egg donor health to better understand complications and give women considering egg donation more information for their decisions.
    Get Free E-Book Download
    Gratitude: Self-Care Strategies for Life and Work
    Subscribe
    After confirmation, our free e-book download will be emailed to you...unsubscribe anytime
    Continue Reading

    Health

    Challenging Assumptions About the Use of Contraception by U.S. Muslim Women

    Published

    on

    By Henna Budhwani and Kristine Ria Hearld

    Contraception is complicated. Reproductive health scholars can comfortably weigh the protective benefits of condom use compared to the convenience of intrauterine devices. However, for most people, contraception continues to be a sensitive subject not appropriate for casual conversation – and consequently many Americans lack an adequate understanding of their contraception options. Likewise, even the best-intentioned clinicians know little about how minority communities engage with reproductive healthcare and utilize contraception. Due to these knowledge gaps, providers of contraceptive services often struggle with how to approach family planning with individuals from minority populations, particularly those belonging to highly stigmatized groups that are underrepresented in scientific research. This can be especially true for “culturally conservative” populations of clients, among whom sex itself is stigmatized and sexual health is not freely discussed in the home or the doctor’s office.

    Knowledge gaps are especially prevalent about the reproductive health behaviors of Muslim women, arguably one of the most understudied populations in the United States. This dearth of research is not surprising, given that Muslim women are part of a religious minority group that experiences ongoing intersectional stigma and discrimination in American public life. Because past studied have sometimes taken advantage of minority and marginalized populations, groups such as Muslim women may be suspicious of researchers and wary of divulging personal information, particularly on sensitive topics like contraception use.

    Nevertheless, good research is needed, because in its absence, pernicious assumptions can take the place of actual evidence – and myths can misinform clinicians and policymakers as well as the general public. Social scientists therefore have a pressing calling to conduct research that may ultimately dispel harmful myths and give voice to a group of women missing from academic discourse. Our work examines this set of issues, contraception use and reproductive health preferences, in Muslim women in the United States. We collected information from Muslim women themselves about their lives, and our findings refute presumptions that women in this population typically experience low bodily autonomy and high sexual risk factors.

    Path-Breaking Research from the Muslim Women’s Health Project

    In 2015, the Back of the Envelope mechanism at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health funded a grant to collect exploratory data from Muslim women across the United States. Our research team developed an online survey that included measures of stigma, mental health, and contraceptive use among participants. Respondents were women who self-identified as Muslim and who were at least eighteen years old and current residents of the United States. To be sure, online surveys have limitations – for example, American Muslim women who did not have a computer in their home or did not regularly use the Internet would likely not have been exposed to the survey at all. Nevertheless, one major benefit of online surveys is their ability to engage difficult-to-reach populations, including respondents in stigmatized populations, minority enclaves, and groups fearing persecution. Data from our respondents, including participants from Muslim subgroups, were analyzed to identify notable barriers and facilitators to various kinds of contraception use – namely use of oral contraceptive pills, condoms, intrauterine devices, and reliance on withdrawal during sex.

    In the United States as a whole, some national estimates suggest that 62% to 75% of women of reproductive age use contraceptives. Rates of contraception use by women in Muslim majority countries varies widely, from a low rate of use by 38.5% of reproductive-age women in Pakistan and to a high rate of use by 62.3% of such women in Indonesia. Because of these statistics, we assumed Muslim women in the United States would use contraceptives at a higher rate than their counterparts in Muslim majority countries, but at a lower rate than other women in the wider-population of Americans.

    Results from our survey showed that our hypotheses were wrong. We found that almost 80% of eligible Muslim respondents used some form of contraception. As we delved further into characteristics of our sample, we realized that the women who responded to the survey tended to be highly educated (over half had completed graduate or professional school) and had relatively high incomes (43% had a household income of over $100,000 annually). They also had high rates of health insurance coverage, given that fewer than six percent were uninsured. A deeper investigation through multivariate analysis showed that education and income were more important to understanding contraception use than religion, ethnicity, or even immigrant status (whether a respondent was born in the United States or elsewhere).

    Essentially, our inquiry found was that when the social playing field is leveled through higher education, increased income, and full access to health insurance, contraceptive utilization increases – even among populations that are predominantly foreign-born and where people may be religious or hail from culturally conservative communities where women hold a secondary social status. Such factors are typically associated with low contraception use, but in our study, we found these factors could be counteracted by positive social conditions associated with empowerment.

    Why Policymakers and Advocates Should Further Overall Improvements

    When officials or advocates aim to boost contraceptive use by racial and ethnic minorities in order to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, it may be valuable to address community conditions holistically. Working patient by patient in health care settings can be helpful, but this approach is limited in scope, costly in time, and influences only the identified, targeted health behaviors. The better approach may be to expand women’s overall access to advanced educational opportunities that can lead to socioeconomic success and improved quality of life – even for women who belong to culturally conservative communities. Overall empowerment, we conclude, is the best way to increase rates of contraceptive use and ensure better life choices and opportunities for women in all communities.

    Get Free E-Book Download
    Gratitude: Self-Care Strategies for Life and Work
    Subscribe
    After confirmation, our free e-book download will be emailed to you...unsubscribe anytime
    Continue Reading

    Health

    Democrat-Led States Tended to Have Stronger Response to COVID-19, Which Improved Health Outcomes, Study Shows

    Published

    on

    BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — States with Democratic leaders tended to have responded more strongly to COVID-19 and have seen a lower rate of the spread of the virus, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

    Binghamton University Professor of Political Science Olga Shvetsova and her colleagues wanted to gain a clearer understanding of how politics affect COVID-19 outcomes. The researchers used data on public health measures taken across the United States to build an index of the strength of the COVID policy response. They combined this index with daily counts of new COVID cases, along with political and other variables that they thought were relevant to the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic and governments’ response to it. Using this dataset, they assessed the effects of policies on the observed number of new infections and the difference between the policies adopted in Republican-led and Democrat-led states.

    This study connects the aggregate strength of public health policies taken in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the U.S. states to the governors’ party affiliations and to the state-level outcomes. Understanding the relationship between politics and public health measures can better prepare American communities for what to expect from their governments in a future crisis and encourage advocacy for delegating public health decisions to medical professionals.

    “The state governments led by Democrats, on average, took stricter measures than the state governments led by Republicans, and the states with stricter measures had the virus spread much slower,” said Shvetsova.

    The difference between the policies made in Democrat-led states and those made in Republican-led states corresponded to an about 7-8 percent lower rate of the spread of the virus.

    According to the researchers, these conclusions reinforce the findings of previous studies that application of public health policy was politicized for COVID-19, and this affected health outcomes.

    “The main lesson of this research is that better public health requires a less partisan approach to the making of public health policies,” said Shvetsova.

    Additional researchers and institutions on the study included: Andrei Zhirnov from the University of Exeter, Frank Giannelli from Rutgers University, Michael Catalano, and Olivia Catalano.

    The paper, “Governor’s party, policies, and COVID-19 outcomes: Further Evidence of the Effect,” was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

    Get Free E-Book Download
    Gratitude: Self-Care Strategies for Life and Work
    Subscribe
    After confirmation, our free e-book download will be emailed to you...unsubscribe anytime
    Continue Reading

    Trending

    DON’T MISS OUT!
    Subscribe To Newsletter
    Get access to free webinars, premimum content, exclusive offers and discounts delivered straight to your email inbox.
    Start My Free Subscription
    Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
    close-link


    Good Things When You Subscribe

    Subscribe
    close-link
    Get Free E-Book Download
    Gratitude: Self-Care Strategies for Life and Work
    Subscribe
    After confirmation, our free e-book download will be emailed to you...unsubscribe anytime
    Close