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Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel

Mara Gandal-Powers is Counsel for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center. She previously was a legal fellow and an intern at the Center. During law school, Ms. Gandal-Powers was a law clerk for Senator Al Franken on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. Additionally, she interned for the Children's Health Advocacy Project, a medical-legal partnership between Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and health centers and children's hospitals in St. Louis. She received her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College where she majored in Women's Studies. She received her law degree from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, where she served as co-president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and was an associate editor of the Washington University Global Studies Law Review. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Gandal-Powers worked for the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs. She currently serves on the Alumnae Board of The Holton-Arms School. 

My Take

Why the Griswold Case Matters to 99% of Women (and Everyone Else Too)

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: June 07, 2015 at 10:00 am

Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized access to and use of birth control. Whether you’re part of the 99% of women who use birth control at some point in their lives or not, Griswold has had an impact your life. Griswold was the foundation for many of the rights that shape our lives today, like the right to determine if and when to have children, the right to determine how to raise your children, and the right to have intimate relationships with whomever you love.


Birth Control Without Costs: It's The Law

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: April 30, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Here at NWLC, we are big fans of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit because it removes cost barriers to birth control and has the potential to change women’s lives. Which is why the findings in our report, “State of Birth Control Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act,” are so troubling. While most women are getting coverage of birth control without out-of-pocket costs like the law requires, some insurance companies are not complying with the law. Some insurance companies charge women for their birth control, do not cover it at all, charge for services associated with the birth control, or place unallowable limits on the coverage. When we uncover these violations of the law, we know that women aren’t able to access their birth control method because of the cost barrier.


A No-Brainer in Colorado: Funding for Birth Control

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: April 08, 2015 at 10:12 am

If I were to tell you that there was a program that helped women get the most effective forms of birth control and had reduced the teen birth rate by nearly 40% in four years, you’d probably say, “This is amazing, tell me more.”  If I told you that for every dollar invested in this program, the state had saved $5.85 in Medicaid costs, you might say, “You can’t argue with that math.” And if I told you that there was has an opportunity to continue this fantastic work, you’d probably say, “That’s a no-brainer, they should keep doing it.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a no-brainer for some members of the Colorado state legislature.

The state legislature is currently debating whether it should fund the Department of Public Health and Environment to continue the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. The program, which helps women get access to long-acting reversible birth control (LARCs,) was started in 2009 with funding from a private donor. The funding ends in June. The program’s impact on the state cannot be overstated. There have been reductions in: unintended pregnancy; abortion rates; numbers of infants needing nutrition support; and, Medicaid spending on births. Women, children, families, and the state budget all benefitted from this program, so why is there any debate?


We’ve All Been There, And An Over-The-Counter Pill Should Be There For Us

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: December 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Ask any woman who has used the birth control pill about the time she needed to get pills and couldn’t because she couldn’t get a prescription in time, and she’ll have a story. That time she was on vacation and forgot her next pack of pills. That Sunday morning she opened up her medicine cabinet to find that the pack she finished yesterday was the last pack she had. That time she couldn’t get an appointment with her health care provider until weeks after her last pack of pills expired. Or that time she didn’t have a regular provider that she could call. Most of these women probably ended up with a gap between when they finished their birth control and when they were able to get a new pack of pills. And there’s a simple solution to this problem: there should be at least one birth control pill available over-the-counter.


Confused About Stroke Guidelines and Birth Control? Obamacare Can Help. (No, Really, It Can.)

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: February 07, 2014 at 01:16 pm

Yesterday, the American Heart Association released new prevention guidelines for women regarding stroke. These guidelines are particularly important for women with high blood pressure, which puts them at increased risk for stroke, the third leading cause of death among women. A quick read of the guidelines and reporting about them raises a question. Both pregnancy and birth control pills put women at greater risk for stroke. So what’s a girl who already has high blood pressure but doesn’t want to get pregnant to do?