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News / Health / Clark County Health

New OHSU facility to focus on reproductive health equity

By Nika Bartoo-Smith, Columbian staff reporter
Published: February 9, 2023, 6:43pm

Last month, Oregon Health & Science University launched a new Center for Reproductive Health Equity to focus on investigating key disparities affecting reproductive health and clinical care.

“Reproductive health and rights are really fundamental — those rights are under attack right now,” said Dr. Maria Rodriguez, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Center for Reproductive Health Equity. “With the center, we want to help address that.”

The Center for Reproductive Health Equity was more than seven years in the making, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade added a new sense of urgency, according to Rodriguez.

The center will focus on three key areas: research, education and clinical care.

Researchers will seek to determine how health systems impact reproductive health disparities, according to a press release. The goal of the research is to help mitigate barriers to access.

Education efforts at the center will focus largely on the role of policy related to reproductive care and working to provide systemic reviews on the potential benefits and harm of abortion policies, according to Rodriguez.

The center will provide clinical care, enlisting physicians to help improve reproductive health care access for marginalized populations within Oregon and across the country by serving out-of-state patients, according to the release.

“Oregon now has a really important role to play nationally,” Rodriguez told The Columbian. She sees the center as a chance for Oregon to serve as a leader of reproductive health care and equity.

OHSU has served as a leader in reproductive care through a number of different initiatives including: providing abortion access to out-of-state patients; advising on international efforts to improve reproductive health; and offering abortion trainings for medical residents in states where abortion is banned or restricted, according to the release.

Another way OHSU is working to break down barriers in reproductive care is through providing access to abortion services via telemedicine, according to Rodriguez.

The Center for Reproductive Health Equity will continue this work, aiming to break down systemic barriers and make reproductive care accessible to all.

“The establishment of this center is an important and necessary step to ensure a person’s right to make decisions about their health is not in any way limited by factors like race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity or socioeconomic status,” Rodriguez said in the release.

For more information about services offered at OHSU, visit ohsu.edu.

Columbian staff reporter