Wallace Center's interview with the Bixby Center Executive Director Karen Weidert, the inside scoop: Society of Family Planning (SFP) 2023 annual meeting

November 16, 2023

Society of Family Planning's logo


Karen Weidert, Executive Director of the Bixby Center, gives us the inside scoop on SFP 2023, located in Seattle, WA. The annual meeting is where those who produce and inform contraception and abortion research come together to share new research, consider new questions and learn from one another. 

Wallace Center: Were there any sessions that made you feel hopeful for the future of reproductive health? 

Karen: I really appreciated a session on person- and justice-centered measurement, which focused on ongoing efforts to develop actionable tools to advance sexual and reproductive health equity, including a presentation of the Share Project by Dr. Anu Manchikanti Gomez, who is faculty in the UC Berkeley School of Social Work and is collaborating with Dr. Cassondra Marshall of the Wallace Center on this research. It made me hopeful to see so many people in attendance and excited about moving past a one-size-fits-all approach to measurement in our field.

Wallace Center: Any session that made you feel nervous about the future of reproductive health?
Karen: One session on self-managed abortion with a focus on research and legal updates regarding experiences, frequency, and criminalization left me feeling very anxious for the (near) future -- particularly in terms of criminalization. It is something I will definitely be paying close attention to and I recommend reading this report from If/When/How: Lawyers for Reproductive Justice. 

And speaking of If/When/How, hearing about the heroic efforts of this incredibly talented group of lawyers left me with a hope and courage to use my voice and power where I can. 

Wallace Center: Any major takeaways from the conference on abortion research specifically? Things we should be considering? Ways to be a better advocate? 

Karen: I think the session focused on media engagement and public scholarship post-Dobbs was a big takeaway for me. Situated in academia, so much of my focus is on peer-reviewed publications. However, this session pushed me to think more about how to get evidence-based abortion research into mainstream media to counteract the amount of mis- and dis-information on abortion that is currently overwhelming the platforms where the majority of Americans get their information.   

Wallace Center: What's something you wish was covered at the conference and wasn't? 

Karen: The conference really highlights US-centric research, opportunities and challenges and I would really like to see a larger global presence at the conference. This is not just because of my own research in global sexual and reproductive health, but because there is so much we can learn from our colleagues around the world, especially those making important strides towards reproductive justice while our country is moving backwards.