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Dear SFP fellows and colleagues,

I write to give you a quick overview of SFP’s activities this year—and to ask you to consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support SFP’s mission and vital work throughout the year. You may designate your donation for a particular purpose or simply support our overall activities.

Annual meeting

In October, SFP convened our annual meeting in Seattle in conjunction with the third annual North American Forum on Family Planning, produced in partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Between the plenary panels and concurrent sessions, attendees had much from which to choose. With nearly 650 attendees (almost 100 more than last year) and strong science and educational content, we think that this year’s Forum was another resounding success—and the twitter feed that ran throughout the conference and the attendee evaluations agreed with that assessment.

Dr. Carole JoffeDr. Paul BlumenthalDr. Robert HatcherAs in the past, one of the highlights of the meeting for us was the SFP Awards Luncheon (see photos of the Awards Luncheon). This year, we introduced a new award—the Robert A. Hatcher Family Planning Mentor Award in recognition of the extraordinary role in educating and mentoring family planning health providers and researchers played by the award’s first recipient, Dr. Robert A. Hatcher. Dr. Hatcher and our other two awardees, Drs. Paul Blumenthal and Carole Joffe, gave inspiring talks reflecting on changes in abortion provision and family planning over the course of their careers.

Dr. Ushma UpadhyayDr. Maureen BaldwinDr. Elisabeth WoodhamsThe winner of the Outstanding Researcher Award this year was SFP junior fellow Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH, for her abstract “Prevalence of abortion complications and incidence of emergency room visits among 55,000 abortions covered by the California Medi-Cal Program.” Two Outstanding Researcher in Training Awards were presented: one to SFP junior fellow Maureen Baldwin, MD, MPH, for her abstract “Initial management of undesired pregnancy of unknown location: A decision analytic model”; and one to SFP junior fellow Elisabeth Woodhams, MD, for her abstract “Understanding African-American adolescent males’ perceived responsibility for pregnancy prevention: A focus group study.”

Awards were also given for the top scientific posters. First place went to SFP full fellow Sonya Borrero for “The public cost of unfulfilled sterilization requests.” Second place went to SFP full fellow Aileen Gariepy for “Probability of pregnancy after sterilization: A comparison of hysteroscopic versus laparoscopic sterilization.” Third place went to Tibebu Alemayehu for “An evaluation of post-abortion contraceptive uptake following a youth-friendly service intervention in Ethiopia.”

This year our official journal, Contraception, introduced the Daniel R. Mishell, Jr, MD, Outstanding Article Awards. The three winners in this category were Erica Chong for “A randomized controlled trial of different buccal misoprostol doses in mifepristone medical abortion,” Jennifer Blum for “Can at-home semi-quantitative pregnancy tests serve as a replacement for clinical follow-up of medical abortion? A U.S. study,” and SFP junior fellow Julia Steinberg for “Fatal flaws in a recent meta-analysis on abortion and mental health.”

The call for scientific abstracts and conference session proposals for the fourth annual North American Forum on Family Planning opened on December 1, 2013 and will close on March 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm EDT. We expect the Forum to again be the year’s outstanding conference on family planning research and practice. SFP will continue to manage the scientific abstracts program and to collaborate with our partners to develop the conference content and select faculty. The meeting will be held in Miami, October 12–13, 2014, and will be preceded by two days of pre-conference events.

Competitive research program

The SFP Research Fund’s 2013 Request for Proposals once again resulted in allocations of more than $1.5 million for large and small research grants focused on family planning and abortion, including career development awards and student/trainee awards. (Read the study abstracts. And note that to be eligible for grant funding in the 2014 cycle, non-fellows must apply online by January 31, 2014 and be approved for full or junior fellowship.) The new RFP will be available soon.

In other research-related news, I wanted to highlight “The public health threat of anti-abortion legislation,” a commentary published in Contraception by SFP fellow Dan Grossman and colleagues. As a research-focused society, we’re concerned about the trend of new laws involving women’s health that are not based on evidence, such as those compelling clinics to meet unnecessary ambulatory surgical center requirements and those that ban abortion at 20 weeks. Since we believe that public health decisions should be based on scientific evidence, SFP has recently joined amicus brief requests and letters to legislators on topics related to abortion and contraception.


This year, we introduced a new membership category, Affiliate Fellowship, for individuals who are involved in family planning work and currently do not meet fellowship requirements, such as clinicians (MDs, APCs), pharmacists, academics (professors, teachers) and staff in research support roles (research coordinators, project managers). Further, I’d like to remind full fellows that the Emeritus Fellowship status is for fellows in good standing who have retired and are employed less than 50 percent of the time as a physician or researcher.

Clinical guidelines

Another activity essential to SFP’s mission is to foster the advancement of clinical care through the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines. In 2013, we published three new guidelines in Contraception, an International Reproductive Health Journal, SFP’s official journal. “Management of postabortion hemorrhage,” “Surgical abortion prior to 7 weeks of gestation,” “Interruption of nonviable pregnancies of 24–28 weeks' gestation using medical methods,” and an update to “Cervical preparation for second-trimester surgical abortion prior to 20 weeks’ gestation” are posted on our website, along with guidelines published in previous years. To submit topics for future clinical guidelines, please use our online survey.


On behalf of the SFP board and staff, I appreciate your participation and support of our mission to advance science in family planning, including contraception and abortion, by funding research and promoting the expansion and dissemination of family planning knowledge. We are fortunate to close 2013 with more than 440 fellows, as well as hundreds of grant and abstract reviewers, colleagues and supporters.


Susan Higginbotham signature
Susan Higginbotham, MEd
Executive Director

Susan Higginbotham, MEd, Society of Family Planning Executive Director