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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

Roe v. Wade Respects Life

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

For those of us born after Roe v. Wade was decided the reality of back alley abortions can seem remote. Stories of dirty facilities, infections and even death can sound fantastical to our modern ears. And, yet, they shouldn’t. Worldwide, there are 70,000 maternal deaths each year caused by unsafe abortions. Abortion bans can threaten the health and, even life, of women facing pregnancy complications.

Last year, 31 year old Savita Halapanavar died from blood poisoning after doctors in an Irish hospital refused to perform an abortion even though she was miscarrying and there was nothing they could do to save the pregnancy. In 2010, a nun in Phoenix Arizona was excommunicated from the Catholic Church after she allowed an abortion to save the life of a woman suffering from heart failure.


In Rehearing Maryland Crisis Pregnancy Center Cases, the Fourth Circuit can Reverse Decisions that Threaten Women’s Health

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: December 12, 2012 at 01:36 pm

Last Thursday, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in two cases concerning laws that would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) to disclose factual information about the services they offer.

Earlier this year, a divided three judge panel struck down a law in Baltimore, Maryland that required CPCs to post disclaimers in waiting rooms stating that they do not provide or make referrals for abortion or birth control services and a law in Montgomery County, Maryland that required CPCs to disclose that they do not have licensed medical professionals on staff and that the county encourages women who may be pregnant to consult with licensed medical personnel. Judge Robert King dissented in both cases.


In Texas, Low-income Women Will Be Offered Ideological Anti-Choice Message In Place of Reproductive Health Care

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 28, 2012 at 01:00 pm

According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the repercussions of Texas' decision to forgo over 30 million dollars in federal Medicaid money for the Texas Women's Health Program which provides screening for breast and cervical cancers, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and high blood pressure; family planning counseling; and birth control will create a drastic reduction in the availability of and access to reproductive health care for low-income women. At the same time, Texas Governor Rick Perry is touting The Source for Women, a crisis pregnancy center (CPC), as the alternative to Planned Parenthood affiliates, which the Texas Legislature barred from participating in the Women's Health Program. In his remarks at a ribbon cutting ceremony for The Source for Women, which is trying to revamp itself into a "medical" clinic, Perry congratulated himself and the Texas legislators "who stood strong in the face of assaults" and refused federal money rather than allow Planned Parenthood affiliates to participate in the Women's Health Program. Proudly, Perry proclaimed that The Source for Women "will be part of Texas' own Women's Health Program, and Planned Parenthood will not be." So, Planned Parenthood affiliates that do not provide abortions but do provide a full range of reproductive health services, including pap smears, mammograms, and birth control cannot participate in the Women's Health Program but a CPC that is adding nurse practitioners to its staff to provide some testing, but not treatment, for sexually transmitted diseases can.


Reproductive Rights in the Age of Kangaroo Courts

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 06, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Last Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) upheld a district court decision finding that a Baltimore ordinance requiring limited service pregnancy centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), to post completely factual information stating that they “do not provide or make referrals for abortion or birth control services” violated the CPCs’ right to free speech.

According to the Fourth Circuit, the notice would have been compelled speech that required CPCs “to participate in the City’s effort to tell pregnant women that abortions are available elsewhere as a morally acceptable alternative, contrary to the moral and religious beliefs of the Pregnancy Center.” The majority opinion privileges the beliefs of those who oppose abortion over the rights of women to get accurate information by declaring that a mere factual statement that CPCs do not provide or make referrals for abortion or contraceptive services is also a moral statement and endorsement of the opinion that abortions and contraception should be available.

This is false logic. A factual statement is not an endorsement and, in and of itself, does not carry a moral valence. After all, nothing is stopping a CPC from posting a sign stating that it does not endorse abortions or contraception next to the required notice. This sign could even be five times the size of the notice so that there wouldn’t be any confusion regarding the CPC’s moral position.


Reproductive Rights Matter for Mothers

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 12, 2012 at 09:50 am

This blog post is a part of NWLC’s Mother’s Day 2012 blog series. For all our Mother’s Day posts, please click here.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to let you in on a little secret. Reproductive rights are mother’s rights. When women are able to make informed, autonomous decisions about when and whether to have children, they have healthier pregnancies. Planning the timing of a pregnancy can prevent a range of pregnancy complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Planned pregnancies allow women to take steps to address and ameliorate health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease which may be worsened by a pregnancy and threaten the health of the fetus.