Online Program

Abortion care counselors in Latin America:A qualitative evaluation of IPPF/WHR's abortion counseling training

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vanessa Rios, MPH, Organizational Learning and Evaluation/Programs, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), New York, NY
In September 2014, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) implemented a qualitative evaluation to assess how trainings in Latin America for abortion care counselors affect the participants and influence their respective organizations more broadly.  Two focus groups and three in-depth interviews were conducted with participants representing seven countries throughout Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela). This presentation will define the training model and describe key evaluation findings and lessons learned. These lessons could apply to a range of counselling programs, particularly those operating internationally in settings with restrictive abortion laws.

In options/harm reduction counseling, counselors guide women with unwanted pregnancies through their pregnancy options and alternatives, including continuing the pregnancy, adoption and abortion. For women who wish to terminate their pregnancy, counselors refer women to legal abortion services where possible or in more restrictive settings, provide information about safer and less-safe methods to terminate a pregnancy (including misoprostol).

The evaluation found that the IPPF/WHR trainings’ combination of skills-based activities (e.g. role playing, reviewing contraceptive guidelines), a human rights foundation, and international social support network-building among from peers serves to engender security and confidence in the counselors. Additionally, the structure of IPPF/WHR creates an opportunity for transferring knowledge, ideas, and best practices across the region. Exchanging with peers experiencing similar challenges not only legitimizes participants’ experiences and provides an opportunity for catharsis, but also serves to transfer social change across countries and inspires the adaptation of methodology to counselors’ specific legal and social contexts.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Describe the unique aspects of IPPF/WHR’s options counseling model and training that prepare counselors throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to serve women with unwanted pregnancies in contexts where abortion is legally restricted by connecting them to legal abortion and harm reduction counseling services. Discuss the perceived benefits of international exchange among abortion care counselors with respect to their personal emotional well-being as well as the potential to transfer best practices and social change across countries.

Keyword(s): Abortion, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the qualitative evaluation to be presented as a Data Analyst on the Organizational Learning and Evaluation team at IPPF/WHR. I have a Masters in Public Health with a focus on Global Health from Emory University where I developed by qualitative research and evaluation skills.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.