Notre Dame Honors Group that Trains for Use of Emergency Contraception

The Observer reports that the University of Notre Dame recently bestowed the award for “International Human Development and Solidarity” on the organization Partners in Health (PIH).  The Cardinal Newman Society briefly reviewed PIH’s website and discovered that the group supports “contraceptive options,” “family planning,” and even “emergency contraception”. From the Observer report:

[Ophelia] Dahl, who serves as president and executive director of PIH, founded the nonprofit organization with cofounder and Harvard University professor Paul Farmer in rural Haiti in 1987 with the goal of providing a preferential option for the poor. Today, the organization directly involves more than 12,000 people at more than 60 hospitals and health centers in 12 countries to provide quality healthcare for the poor. In a private award ceremony, University president Fr. John Jenkins said PIH exemplifies the principle of solidarity in its work, aligning it closely with the service-oriented Notre Dame community. “I think [PIH] represents in their work the work of Christ, which is why we feel such an affinity for Partners In Health and why our students feel connected to their work,” he said.

On a webpage discussing the women’s health aspect of Partners in Health’s HIV Equality Initiative, “family planning” and “contraceptive options” are spoken of in this effort.  From the PIH website:

When women are counseled, educated, and provided with contraceptive options, they are more likely to delay childbearing, have fewer children, and reduce their risk for obstetrical complications. Nevertheless, 50 percent of all pregnancies worldwide are unplanned or unwanted… Many barriers limit women’s access to family planning methods, including gender inequality, myths, and lack of knowledge about available services. Family planning is an integral part of the model of comprehensive women’s health care that was developed at Zanmi Lasante (ZL) in Haiti and emphasized as one of the four pillars of PIH’s HIV Equity Initiative. Each of ZL’s clinical sites has a full-time nurse trained in sex education and reproductive health counseling. ZL has been offering free condoms and other contraceptive methods for over 15 years. In 2003, Zanmi Lasante began training and mobilizing community health workers who specifically promote family planning and women’s health. These ajans fanm (women’s health agents) travel throughout the countryside, teaching women and men about sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and contraceptive methods, distributing condoms and oral contraceptives, and referring pregnant women and others to the clinics. This successful model is being replicated at PIH sites in Rwanda, Malawi and Lesotho.

Another webpage discussing Partners in Health’s efforts to support women’s health in temporary settlements indicates: “All mobile clinic staff will also be attending ‘refresher’ trainings in women’s health basics–particularly the use of emergency contraception and management of victims of rape.”

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