Planned parenthood and reproductive rights

Program Lead:  Professor Angela Taft

Reproductive health is a human right. Planned parenthood confers significant health benefits for women and their families. This program of work addresses the desire by women and their families to effectively control their fertility and maximise their opportunities for a planned and wanted pregnancy and birth.

We use both epidemiological and ethnographic methods to investigate the prevalence of, attitudes to, and use of contraception, emergency contraception, the extent of reproductive coercion and safe and unsafe pregnancy termination in Australia and other countries (e.g. Timor Leste and Ghana). We aim to improve the access, equity, effectiveness, quality and affordability of sexual and reproductive health services.

Factors associated with abortion over time

This trend analysis of associations with induced abortion showed that it remains strongly associated with partner violence and illicit drug use and other  factors affecting women’s control over reproductive health.

This study examined what factors affecting women over time could be identified to help reduce unwanted pregnancies among young Australian women. It found that abortion remains strongly associated with factors affecting women’s control over reproductive health such as partner violence and illicit drug use.

Research team: Angela Taft, Rhonda Powell, Lyn Watson; in collaboration with Jayne Lucke, La Trobe University; Danielle Mazza and Kathleen McNamee, Monash University

The results were published [external link] in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2019; 43(2):137-42).

Collaborative Work

SPHERE – the Centre of Research Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health for Women

A research program focused on three important areas of women's sexual and reproductive health: abortion, contraception, and preconception care

Australian women continue to have poor sexual and reproductive health, which impacts on them, their families and the broader community. SPHERE aims to:

  • improve the delivery of preconception care to optimise pregnancy outcomes
  • increase understanding, awareness and uptake of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)
  • increase access and service provision of medical termination of pregnancy.

SPHERE aims to create a paradigm shift to recognise the interconnectedness of contraception, abortion and pregnancy planning for individual women and the need to use an integrated life course approach to help women achieve their own reproductive goals.

Research team: Angela Taft; in collaboration with Danielle Mazza, Jane Fisher and Safeera Hussainy, Monash University; Kirsten Black, Jayne Lucke and Kevin McGeechan, University of Sydney; Marion Haas, UTS; Wendy Norman, University of British Columbia

This research project is a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence.

For more information about it, see the SPHERE website [external link].

The Australian contraceptive choice project (ACCORD)

Training family physicians increases the uptake of long-active reversible contraceptives and has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies

International evidence demonstrates that long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are the most effective method to reduce unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Despite this, in Australia rates of LARC use remain low compared with less-effective forms of contraceptives. This trial was based on the successful US Contraceptive CHOICE Project. It tested a complex intervention in general practice consisting of online training for effectiveness-based contraceptive counselling for general practitioners and access to rapid referral for LARC insertion clinics. The study resulted in a significantly higher rate of LARC insertions in the intervention group compared with the control group.

Research team: Angela Taft; in collaboration with Danielle Mazza, Monash University; Kirsten Black, Jayne Lucke and Kevin McGeechan, University of Sydney; Marion Haas, UTS; Jeff Piepert, Washington University

The study received funding from the NHMRC.

The outcomes paper was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2019 [external link].

Migrants' reproductive health (ROAM)

Comparative work on migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women’s reproductive health outcomes and their views of maternity care in Europe, North America and Australia

The Reproductive Outcomes and Migration (ROAM) collaboration began with an initial grant awarded from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) International Opportunity Development Grant Scheme to establish research links between Canada and Australia for comparing reproductive health outcomes of immigrant and refugee women. Since 2004 collaborators from over 20 countries have joined the collaborative network. In annual meetings projects are discussed and planned.

Research team: Rhonda Small, Touran Shafiei, participating members; ROAM Steering Group: Birgitta Essen, Uppsala University, Sweden; Rhonda Small, La Trobe University, Australia (until 2019); Mika Gissler, Institute of Health, Finland; Lisa Merry, McGill University, Canada; Jennifer Zeitlin, INSERM, France and EURO-PERISTAT; Marcelo Urquia, University of Winnipeg, Canada; Sarah Villedsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

In 2019, a project investigating the impact of integration policies on infant birthweight in migrant women was completed and published [external link].