Wendy Chavkin, MD, MPH

  • Special Lecturer in Population and Family Health
Profile Headshot


Dr. Wendy Chavkin is a physician with clinical training in obstetrics gynecology and board certified in public health and preventative medicine. She has concentrated on policy research and advocacy regarding reproductive health and women’s rights to full participation in society. She is co-founder of Global Doctors for Choice and previously served as a co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. From 2004 to 2005 she was a Fulbright New Century Scholar for her research on Fertility Decline and the Empowerment of Women, from 1994 to 2002 she was editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, and from 1984 to 1988, the director of The Bureau of Maternity Services and Family Planning in New York City's Department of Health. She has conducted research and written extensively about reproductive health issues, including abortion, conscientious objection to providing reproductive health care, globalized motherhood and policy responses to declining birthrates,  the consequences of welfare reform for the health of women and children, HIV and illegal drug use in pregnancy. She has received numerous awards from public health organizations for advocacy including the Jean Pakter and Allan Rosenfield awards.

Academic Appointments

  • Special Lecturer in Population and Family Health

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 1973 University of Michigan
  • MD, 1978 SUNY
  • MPH, 1981 Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Committees, Societies, Councils

Director, Soros Reproductive Health and Rights Fellowship

Society for Family Planning

Diplomate, Board of Preventive Medicine 

American Medical Women’s Association

American Public Health Association

Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine

Association of Teachers of Maternal-Child Health

New York Academy of Medicine

New York Academy of Science

Public Health Association of New York City

Physicians for Reproductive Choice

Health Executive Board

Editorial Boards

Editor-in-Chief, Journal of American Medical Women's Association, 1994-2002

Contributing Editor, Topics of Our Times, American Journal of Public Health, 1996-1999

Associate Editor, American Journal of Public Health, 1999-2003

Honors & Awards

Jean Pakter Award for Commitment to the Underserved, Public Health Association of New York City, 2013

Women’s Health Hero, Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2010

Felicia Stewart Award for Advocacy and Activism, American Public Health Association, 2007                     

Fulbright New Century Scholars Program, 2004

Bertha Van Hoosen Award, American Medical Women’s Association, 2003

President’s Award, American Medical Women’s Association, 2002

Research Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation, New York, "The social construction of conflict between mother and fetus, and its impact on the health of poor women", 1988-1989

EEO Award, New York City Department of Health, 1987

American Health Magazine Book Award, "Double Exposure: Women's Health Hazards on the Job and at Home", 1984


Allan Rosenfield Award for Public Health and Social Justice, Public Health Association of New York City, 2009


Her research has been concerned with a wide range of reproductive health policies, such as the demographic consequences of declining birthrates including the “globalization of motherhood”, the explosive increase in ARTs, abortion, conscientious objection to provision of reproductive health care services, maternal-fetal conflict, work and reproduction. She has previously focused on policy consequences for those at highest risk of adverse reproductive health outcomes, including pregnant women entitled to welfare benefits, those who use illicit drugs, are HIV infected, are homeless, immigrants, and those who are poor and dependent on governmental programs. 

Research Interests

  • Abortion Access
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health

Selected Publications

Chavkin, W., Abu-Odeh, D., Clune-Taylor, C., Dubow, S., Ferber, M., & Meyer, I. H. (2018, November). Balancing freedom of conscience and Equitable Access. American journal of public health. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6187787/

Chavkin, W., Stifani, B. M., Bridgman?Packer, D., Greenberg, J. M. S., & Favier, M. (2018). Implementing and expanding safe abortion care: An international comparative case study of six countries. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 143(S4), 3–11. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.12671

Chavkin, W., Baffoe, P., & Awoonor?Williams, K. (2018). Implementing safe abortion in Ghana: “We must tell our story and tell it well.” International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 143(S4), 25–30. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.12674

Chavkin, W., Swerdlow, L., & Fifield , J. (2017). Regulation of Conscientious Objection to Abortion: An International Comparative Multiple-Case Study. Health and Human Rights , 19(1), 55–68. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28630541/ 

Chavkin W, Swerdlow L. Motherhood in Fragments: The disaggregation of biology and care. In Babies for Sale: Transnational surrogacy, human rights and the politics of reproduction, ed. Miranda Davies. 2017 

Chavkin W, Maher JM eds. The Globalization of Motherhood: deconstructions and reconstructions of biology and care. Routledge Press. 2010

Chavkin W., Chesler E., eds. Where Human Rights Begin: Essays on Health, Sexuality and Women, Ten Years after Vienna, Cairo and Beijing. Rutgers University Press: 2005.

Chavkin W, Draut T, Romero D, and Wise PH. Sex, Reproduction and Welfare Reform.  Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy 2000; 7(2):1-11.

Chavkin W, Wise PH and Elman D. “Policies Towards Pregnancy and Addiction: Sticks Without Carrots.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1998; 846:335-340.

Chavkin W, ed. Double Exposure: Women's Health Hazards on the Job and at Home. Monthly Review Press, New York, 1984. 

Global Health Activities

  • Global Doctors for Choice (GDC) is an international network of physicians that advocate for reproductive healthcare and rights. Public health and medical interns have participated in many of its programs and committees, and GDC looks forward to further work with students. 
  • Member of Expert Advisory, Health Exception, and Self-Managed Abortion Committees for Global Doctors for Choice 
  • Expert Advisor to Doctors for Choice Ireland on Referendum, Conscientious Objection, and Implementation of New Abortion Service; and Expert Advisor to Doctors for Choice Ghana on conscientious objection to abortion provision and implementation of the comprehensive abortion care guidelines  
  • Policy Responses to Fertility Decline
  • Regulation of conscientious objection

Urban Health Activities

Finding Common Ground: Study of impact of welfare reform on health of women and children of Washington Heights

NYC Dept of Health: Consultant re infant and maternal mortality.

Planned Parenthood, NYC: Member, Medical Committee