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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

Transgender Health Care Needs Can't Be Ignored

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: November 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

A recent study on pregnancy in transgender men who had transitioned from female to male highlights the significant problems transgender people experience in obtaining appropriate and culturally competent health care. Many patients had to deal with rude or inappropriate treatment, ranging from improper pronoun use to outright refusals to provide care. One patient said that he was reported to protective services because, “A tranny had a baby.” 

Problems with transgender health care, however, aren’t limited to pregnancy. Health care providers often lack training and knowledge in how to treat transgender people and insurance companies refuse to pay for needed services. For example, health insurance companies refuse to pay for basic preventive services, like cervical cancer screenings for transgender men and prostate cancer screenings for transgender women.


Reminding Ourselves What Reproductive Justice Is: Police Violence and the Death of Michael Brown

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 15, 2014 at 10:53 am

Twenty years ago a group of women of color activists developed the reproductive justice framework, placing reproductive health issues in the larger human rights context.


¡RJ AHORA! Celebration History During the Latina Week of Action

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 08, 2014 at 04:42 pm

Twenty years ago, when a group of visionary Black women created the Reproductive Justice framework, I was still in school, with no idea that a movement was being formed. Nor did I know how important that movement would be as it helped shape and reframe our understanding of reproductive issues, bringing a human rights and justice framework to the reproductive health community and creating a more inclusive movement. Reproductive Justice requires that all people have “the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives.” [PDF] This challenges all of us to work towards a more just world in which we have not only the legal right to reproductive freedom but, also, the resources to exercise those rights and choose whether and when to have children and to be able to parent the children we do have with dignity in healthy and safe environments.


Women Deserve Health Care, Not Lies

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 05, 2014 at 01:52 pm

Women of color are being left behind when it to comes to reproductive health care. African-American women are three to four times more likely than white women to die in pregnancy or childbirth. Women of color are less likely than white women to have regular pap smears, even though they have the highest rates of cervical cancer. African American women have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer than white women.


All Women Deserve Access to Abortion

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 22, 2014 at 01:31 pm

Forty-one years ago Roe v. Wade made clear that women have a fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children. But, today, as some states restrict abortion, many women find themselves unable to exercise this fundamental right. Women of color and low-income women, who have never had equal access to abortion, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Seventy-percent of low income women who obtained an abortion report that they would have preferred to have the abortion earlier. Waiting periods and required ultrasounds force low-income women to take additional time off of work and find child care and transportation. For many women, these can be insurmountable obstacles. One study found that after Texas enacted its waiting period and ultrasound requirements, women had to wait an average of 3.7 days between their initial visit and the abortion. The wait times were primarily caused by scheduling difficulties. Women traveled an average of 84 miles, round-trip and incurred an additional $146 in travel expenses, child care costs and lost wages.  Dr. Willie Parker, who has traveled from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi twice a month to work at the state’s sole abortion clinic recently told Salon, “The women who are disproportionately affected by these cumbersome laws are poor women of color . . . There is virtually no financial support because of the Hyde Amendment. Women who are on Medicaid or public assistance cannot use that money for their care.”