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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

Taken Away in Handcuffs for Going to the Doctor

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: October 01, 2015 at 04:30 pm

Earlier this month, Bianca Borrego, an immigrant woman living in Texas went to the gynecologist for a routine appointment. After waiting for two hours, Ms. Borrego was escorted to an exam room where she was met, not by a doctor, but by Harris County deputies. Ms. Borrego was put in handcuffs and then marched through the waiting room where her children still sat.

Ms. Borrego, who entered the country 12 years ago and over stayed her visa, is currently in the Harris County jail. According to her daughter, the deputies told her that she would likely be deported.  The clinic staff apparently called law enforcement because they suspected that her identification was fake. Not only is this a potential violation of patient privacy, such tactics create mistrust between medical providers and their patients.


The Economics of Reproductive Justice

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 18, 2015 at 03:48 pm

On Monday, CNN Money ran a story describing how a single mother, Safiyyah Cotton, survives making $7.50 an hour in Philadelphia. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy and she’s often left in debt at the end of the month. In order to keep a roof over her head, Ms. Cotton spends most—and sometimes all—of her first paycheck of the month on rent. This leaves little money for all other expenses. Even with SNAP benefits, Ms. Cotton often skips lunch to save money although she always makes sure that her son has enough to eat. Ms. Cotton also doesn’t go to the doctor herself, relying instead on home remedies. She is not always able to pay her child care bills. In fact, her child care costs would be greater than her entire monthly income if she didn’t receive government help.

Skewed Priorities


Latinas Need Reproductive Justice — Not Luck

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 04, 2015 at 10:09 am

The last time I was home visiting my parents I found an old journal where I had recorded my dreams for the future. Although I didn’t quite follow the path I had laid out, I’ve mostly accomplished those goals. I graduated from college, earned a Ph.D., and became a lawyer. I’ve traveled to Europe and lived in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. I have an amazing daughter and I work full-time in a job I love.

A Little Bit of Luck

I’ve been very lucky. Leaving a small Texas town for an Ivy League school opened up a lot of doors for me and not just the ones you might expect. As a young adult, I received compassionate care at my college health center and was always treated with respect and kindness—a far cry from the experiences of many who may get a nice dose of shaming to go along with their requests for birth control. Even after college, in my very low paying job, I still had health insurance—something too many Latinas still lack.


That Time When Planned Parenthood Visited My Classroom

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 31, 2015 at 11:15 am

My high school health class consisted primarily of reading the textbook — sometimes silently and sometimes aloud to the class — and completing worksheets. To say I didn't learn much would be an understatement. But one day the painful monotony was broken by a guest speaker from Planned Parenthood. This amazing and brave woman stood in front of a class of around thirty 15 and 16 year olds and gave us medically accurate, non-judgmental information about birth control.

I'm from a small, conservative Texas town. That same public school teacher who taught the Worst Health Class in the World — one of the myriad of coaches forced to teach something other than physical education — had required me to copy prayers from a book as punishment for passing a note in class. Actual sex education was not something I had expected. And, yet, thanks to Planned Parenthood it was something I did get.

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Waiting for High Court After Its Stay of Texas Anti-Abortion Provisions

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 07, 2015 at 03:14 pm

This post is cross-posted from ACSLaw's blog

On Monday, the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of key provisions of HB2—Texas’ sweeping anti-abortion law—pending the Court’s decision whether to hear an appeal in the case. Only 9 abortion clinics would have remained open in the state had the law gone into effect leaving over 1.3 million women of reproductive age [PDF] more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic.

The Fifth Circuits Unsound Reasoning