HSPop alum receives Fulbright Award to study abortion access in Mexico

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Blair Darney

Blair Darney (HSERV PhD ’12) was recently awarded the 2023-2024 Garcia Robles COMEXUS/Fulbright award to study abortion access in Mexico. Darney, currently a reproductive health researcher and professor at Oregon Health & Science University, became interested in this topic during her doctoral work at UW, an interest which expanded in her role as Area Director of the Instituo Nacional de Salud Publica in Cuernavaca, Mexico, from 2014-2017. Darney also served in the Peace Corps in Senegal and aided family planning efforts in Burkina Faso and Colombia. 

Darney has authored 136 articles about reproductive health in peer-reviewed journals, including, most recently, two papers about COVID-19’s effects on menstruation. Darney’s 2024 paper on teen pregnancy in Mexico highlights the risks faced by young mothers, particularly those under 15. These mothers receive inferior prenatal care and their babies are more likely to be preterm, underweight, and suffer other ailments. Darney found that better prenatal care significantly shrunk—but did not eliminate—these disparities between younger and older mothers.

Blair Darney

Darney’s work is particularly pressing given that 20% of mothers in Mexico are adolescents, and Latin America is the only region in the world where under-15 births are increasing. Better family planning is sorely needed, including contraception and access to abortion for unwanted pregnancies. Her Fulbright research at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico in Mexico City aims to help make abortion safe and readily accessible for Mexicans.

“It is an honor to be awarded this Garcia Robles COMEXUS/Fulbright award, which builds on my years of rewarding collaborations in Mexico and represents my commitment to contributing to bilateral relations between the U.S. and Mexico,” Darney said. “This Fulbright has allowed me to deepen and expand my research partnerships, and ask new research questions that best support local research interests and needs to generate evidence in support of expanding access to abortion in Mexico.”

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