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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

Using Consumer Protection Laws to Expose the Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 11, 2013 at 02:48 pm

"Crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) around the country advertise free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling—frequently appearing to be neutral medical providers. Women often mistakenly believe that CPCs will provide contraception, including emergency contraception and abortions or referrals to abortion providers. In reality, most are not clinics staffed by medical personnel that offer abortion and contraception. In fact, most CPCs refuse to provide accurate information about abortion or abortion providers. Instead, they offer false ‘facts’ about the safety, availability, and consequences of abortion and birth control. Women deserve better and that is why we are excited to announce the launch this week of Expose the Truth: A Toolkit on Using State Consumer Protection Laws to Document the Deceptive Practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

All states have consumer protection laws that prohibit businesses from engaging in unfair and dishonest practices. The state Attorney General or consumer protection agency enforces the law by investigating complaints filed by people who think a business has broken these laws.


In Texas, Tax Breaks for Employers Who Refuse to Provide Contraceptive Coverage

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 29, 2013 at 11:45 am

Lately, it seems that Texas lawmakers can’t pass up any opportunity to deny women health care. In 2011, they cut funding for birth control services by two-thirds, forcing 53 clinics that provided those services to close. Then, they turned down $30 million in federal money that would have provided contraception and cancer screening to low income women, rather than allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the program. And now, a representative in the Texas House has proposed a bill that would give a tax break to companies that refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.


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.