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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

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

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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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