The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) works at the state and local level to promote reproductive rights and expand access to reproductive health care (with a focus on abortion care), reduce unintended pregnancies, and empower youth to make healthy sexual and reproductive decisions. To do so, NIRH utilizes three interrelated strategies:
• High-Impact Partnerships: through technical assistance, capacity building, and information-sharing, we seek to build networks of local and state advocates and policymakers working together to create and promote solutions to reproductive health challenges.
• Bold Advocacy: by securing a set of strategic “wins” through proactive and creative defensive policy initiatives, we seek to create a positive narrative and advance our agenda.
• Creative Education Campaigns: through bold messages and the creative use of varied communications channels and engagement strategies, we seek to change the public conversation on abortion, contraception, and sexual health.
Since 1980, NIRH efforts to strengthen reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care have included successful programs such as its Residency Training Initiative that resulted in improved abortion training programs at hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Washington State, as well as the integration of medication abortion into hospital formularies in Los Angeles; the Low-Income Access Program, which helped local organizations in more than 15 states advocate for women’s access to reproductive health services in the Medicaid program; and TORCH, a youth empowerment program for NYC teens from under-resourced communities that has had been replicated, in part, in numerous cities, including Portland (OR), Boston, Los Angeles, DC, and Madison (WI). NIRH has also partnered with its sister organization, NARAL Pro-Choice New York in New York City, to improve access to emergency contraception, expose and counter deceptive practices of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs), and secure comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education in New York City.
A current major focus is on building support for a proactive agenda for and unapologetic approach to reproductive rights, health, and justice by helping to build a decentralized yet interconnected movement, based on authentic partnerships and information sharing, in strategic cities and state across the country. The primary vehicles for that work are the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health and the Strengthen Our States Initiative.
Since 2008, its Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health (UI) has partnered with some 50 organizations in 32 cities; its track record of wins include the passage of resolutions supporting insurance coverage of comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, in Cambridge (MA), New York City, Philadelphia, and Travis County (TX); the investigation of and passage of local ordinances countering the deceptive practices of CPCs in Austin, Montgomery County (MD), Chapel Hill (NC), and Dane County (WI); and expanding young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education in Helena (MT), Milwaukee (WI), and in cities throughout California (For more information, see the UI’s accomplishments in its first five years and our new partners for Fall 2013).
Launched just before the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in early 2013, the Strengthen Our States Initiative (SOSI) seeks to support a long-term campaign to secure reproductive rights and health at the state level, with an eye toward building traction in states that have been generally hostile to choice while leveraging the opportunities in more progressive states to create a “bottom-up” groundswell of support. In its first year, SOSI has partnered with organizations based in 14 states, including Georgia, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.