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Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel

Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel, first joined the Center in 2009 as a law fellow and was promoted to Counsel, focusing on health care reform implementation and preventing discrimination in health care. She subsequently worked as a law fellow at the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, where she worked on scholarship related to global health and human rights, health care reform and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Kelli returned to the Center in April 2012, and now oversees the Center's efforts to address religious restrictions on women's access to reproductive health services, including its work on hospital mergers and crisis pregnancy centers. Kelli holds a law degree from Yale Law School, a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an A.B. from Princeton University.

My Take

New Guidance is a Step Forward for Transgender Health

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 10, 2015 at 09:47 am

Caitlyn Jenner is rightly being celebrated for choosing to live her life on her own terms. But, as Laverne Cox noted on her Tumblr, “Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have.

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Texas Politicians Target Neglected Teens

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 02, 2015 at 09:29 am

I grew up in a small Texas town of about 7,000 people, 30 miles from the closest city. There was no public transportation and, really, no way for a teenager without a car to get around except to rely on parents and friends. The courthouse was in the next town over. Some of my high school classmates lived an hour or more away—on ranches and farms and in houses and trailers down country roads with miles between neighbors or in little communities of less than 200 people that couldn’t even support a gas station. Getting into town from these places could be an ordeal, getting into the city to see an abortion provider, near impossible.

So trust me when I tell you that Texas HB 3994 puts in place insurmountable barriers for many Texas adolescents seeking an abortion. Last Friday, this dangerous and extreme bill passed its last hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk . Once it becomes law, it will threaten the safety and health of Texas adolescents.

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Religious Refusal Laws Threaten Access to Health Care

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 22, 2015 at 04:22 pm

This post is cross-posted from AIDS United

In 2011, Joao Simoes, a gay HIV positive man was denied HIV medication by a doctor who, according to Simoes, stated, “This is what he gets for going against God’s will.” Unfortunately, Simoes’s experience was far from unique. Almost 20% of HIV-positive individuals report being denied health care.

Refusals to provide care can threaten not only an individual’s health but public health as well by contributing to the spread of HIV. Perhaps as important, a refusal, or the fear of being refused care, can lead people living with HIV to distrust health care workers. This fear can discourage people from disclosing personal information that might be essential to their care and lead people to avoid the health care system all together or to delay getting necessary care.

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Texas Activist Speaks About Proposed Abortion Restrictions

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 21, 2015 at 02:10 pm

In Texas, a new bill would make it even harder for pregnant minors to get an abortion by adding extra barriers to an already burdensome process. In the following blog post, Emily Rooke-Ley from Jane's Due Process, an organization that provides legal representation to  pregnant minors in Texas, tells us first-hand how these unnecessary and dangerous hoops would harm Texas adolescents:

Texas Legislators Are Putting Pregnant Teens in Harm's Way

by Emily Rooke-Ley, cross-posted from RH Reality Check

I remember my first time answering the hotline for Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas. Holding back tears, I listened anxiously to a young woman, whom I will call Gaby, explain her home life and her pregnancy, asking me to help her obtain a judicial bypass, which would allow her to obtain an abortion without a parent or guardian’s consent. She was just as mature as I am—probably more. “Well the thing is,” she said to me, her voice exuding a kind of tough conviction, “I just can’t bring a baby into this world right now.” 

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Surprise! Slashing Funding Limits Reproductive Health Care Access

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 18, 2015 at 04:03 pm

The Texas Evaluation Policy project released a new study [PDF] finding that many Texas women struggle to access and pay for reproductive health care, including cervical cancer screening and birth control. The researchers looked at women’s access to reproductive health care, beginning in 2011 when the Texas legislature slashed state funding for family planning and rejected federal funding for the women’s health program. Since 2011, 76 women’s health clinics have closed, leaving many women without nearby care.

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