National Partnership Moves to Boost Health Equity Work

Consolidates Health Justice and Reproductive Rights Teams

In a move to strengthen their intersectional work to improve the holistic health of all women through all stages of life, the National Partnership recently consolidated its Health Justice and Reproductive Rights teams. Debra L. Ness, the group's president, called it a matter of equity reflecting the realities of women’s lives.

According to Ness, the change grew from principles the organization adopted to promote both racial and gender equity and to combat white supremacy by centering the experiences of women of color. The National Partnership, which advocates for health and economic justice, had long noted that the states with the most regressive and inhumane abortion restrictions were also the states with the worst maternal health outcomes.

Ness said, “Access to quality and affordable reproductive health care, including abortion care, is crucial to personal autonomy, health and economic opportunity. We all have a right to decide when, if and how to parent. The National Partnership has fought for the full range of reproductive health and abortion care services for nearly 50 years. Reproductive health and abortion care are inseparable from women’s overall health care and we consolidated the Reproductive Rights and Health Justice teams to reflect that reality.

We know that Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, LGBTQI individuals, people with lower incomes, and people with disabilities face substantial obstacles to exercising their right to reproductive health and abortion care. Joining our work on reproductive health with our broader focus on health equity is essential to achieving health and economic justice.”

Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, the Vice-President for Health Justice, will lead the expanded team whose portfolio covers Health System Transformation, Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights and Health. The combined team brings together policy experts in maternal health, digital health, health care delivery and coverage, reproductive health, and abortion access.

Hernández-Cancio described the new team as a talented “mega squad” of policy and technical professionals. She said, “If we're serious about achieving equity for all women, we have to ensure access to high-quality, affordable, and equitable care, especially for reproductive and maternal health. And that means we need to eliminate this artificial disconnect between women's overall health and reproductive health and abortion care. We are committed to combatting white supremacy and promoting racial equity. We understand that to achieve our mission we must abandon race-neutral approaches and focus on the intersecting barriers and discrimination experienced daily by women of color.”

Former Vice-President for Reproductive Rights Sarah Lipton-Lubet, who grew the reproductive rights portfolio significantly over the last six years, will continue to serve the organization as a senior advisor to Ness. “This is an exciting time for the organization,” Lipton-Lubet said about the reorganization. “I can’t wait to see the new heights to which the merged team will take this work under Sinsi’s leadership.”

Hernández-Cancio cited a policy brief, Maternal Health and Abortion Restrictions: How Lack of Access to Quality Care is Harming Black Women co-authored by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Justice Agenda; and a report, Clean Water and Reproductive Justice: How Lack of Access is Harming Women of Color produced in collaboration with In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Justice Agenda, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and the Sierra Club, as examples of the heightened intersectional focus.

Health Justice Team Roster

Sinsi Hernández-Cancio
Vice President for Health Justice

Sarah Coombs
Director for Health System Transformation

Dani Gillespie
Health Justice Policy Associate

Shaina Goodman
Director for Reproductive Health and Rights

Stephanie Green
Health Justice Policy Associate

Blosmeli Leon-Depass
Policy Counsel

Erin Mackay
Managing Director for Health Justice

Nikita Mhatre
Health Justice Policy Associate

Carol Sakala
Director for Maternal Health

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

Media Contact

Llenda Jackson-Leslie
(202) 986-2600
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