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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

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?


Help Me Affordable Care Act, You’re My Only Hope!

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: April 02, 2013 at 09:52 am

A study published in the journal Women’s Health Issues last week highlighted a problem many women have confronted over the years when getting their birth control: even when you have insurance, the costs for contraception can be unaffordable. The study showed that, in 2010, on average women with private insurance paid $10 for a one-month supply of generic pills, $112 for an IUD, and $116 for an implant. The study also found that costs varied depending on your insurer, with some women having to pay more than $17 a month for generic pills, $305 for an IUD, or $308 for an implant. On top of these high costs, the study found that between 2007 and 2010, insurance companies shifted to women costs for long-acting contraceptives, like IUDs and implants. In 2007, a woman paid 13.8% of the cost of an IUD, whereas in 2010 she paid 17.5%.

If these price tags have you confused, there is hope. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” contains a provision that requires health insurers to provide coverage of the full-range of FDA-approved contraceptives without cost sharing.


Why I’m Gushing About the ACA’s Contraceptive Coverage Requirement as the U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits a Record Low

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: February 11, 2013 at 04:50 pm

The CDC published new data today showing that the teen birth rate in the U.S. dropped to a historic low in 2011. The CDC attributes this in part to teens using contraception more regularly and more effectively. This is great news for a number of obvious reasons. But what it makes me really excited about is how the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage provision could help reduce these rates even more in the coming years.

Yes, I recognize how wonky my excitement is, but think about it: these new statistics are from a period of time before the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement went into effect. Imagine what might be coming down the road for us as more and more women have access to contraceptive coverage without worrying that they won’t be able to afford the co-pay at the pharmacy.


An Important Addition to the EC=BC Equation: - Cost Sharing

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: March 28, 2012 at 09:57 am

Access to contraception without cost sharing is one of the many important gains for women in the Affordable Care Act. And it has become much more well-known in the last couple of months because of the kerfuffle on Capitol Hill and on talk radio. But here’s one of the in-the-weeds, wonky things about this provision of the law that has people in the reproductive rights community like me excited: the provision applies to emergency contraception.