UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program


Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, California Family Health Council Title X Reproductive Health Internship
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
Preceptor:
Amy Exelby, Adriana Andaluz, and Idabelle Fosse
Student Name: Rachel Mayersohn
Year: 2005

I completed an Advocacy Project for Reproductive Health as a summer intern in the Public Affairs department of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA) over 11 weeks (just over 420 hours). I received a grant from the California Family Health Council’s Title X Reproductive Health Intern Program, and my preceptors at PPLA were Amy Exelby (director of Public Affairs) and Adriana Andaluz for the first half of the project (grassroots coordinator) and Idabelle Fosse for the second half (same title). I chose this project because I am interested in pursuing a career in public health related to reproductive health issues, and had not had much experience with advocacy work on behalf of reproductive rights. Title X is the government’s family planning funding, and I am very supportive of strong family planning being provided to all people, as this protects the health and well-being of everyone, and should be considered a fundamental right for all. I worked on a number of various projects, some ongoing, and some finite during the duration of my internship. The ultimate goal of my advocacy project was to advance and maintain reproductive rights through advocacy related to legislation which impacts these rights, for women and families in Los Angeles, and the state and nation.

This objective is carried out through educating the public on various legislative issues concerning family planning rights, and developing ways for the public to become directly involved in collaboration and discourse with policy makers. Prominent issues are the rights to abortion, emergency contraception, birth control, and access to basic health care and counseling/testing. These are all heavily impacted by political forces, and are all highly controversial and often under public scrutiny and modification. When being held in political limbo, access to all of these becomes limited and strained. Education and policy evaluation and change are fundamental to improving the political environment in which people receive health services. Advocacy is an intervention, not necessarily in changing a community’s specific health behaviors, but in changing the context in which health care is available and convenient to various communities.

Activities within this advocacy project included organizing rallies to mobilize the community in support of upholding Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion, visiting health centers around Los Angeles to educate clinic staff and patients about current legislative and policy issues, and recruiting volunteers and coordinating events to support PPLA’s campaign for teen safety. This campaign is to defeat proposition 73, which would amend California’s constitution and require health providers to notify parents of teenage patients before offering abortion services, thereby severely limiting their access to safe, confidential health care. In addition, activities included general daily support of ongoing efforts to protect family planning rights, such as creating and organizing educational materials, and drafting communications with policy makers and elected officials
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