Gabriella Larios

  • Hosted by New York Civil Liberties Union
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area LGBTQ+ Rights, Reproductive Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Gabriella engages in advocacy, public education, outreach, and litigation to challenge the use of religion to discriminate against individuals seeking reproductive health care and LGBTQ New Yorkers.

Increasingly, religion is weaponized to discriminate against people seeking reproductive health care and LGBTQ individuals. As a growing number of religious and secular hospitals merge, more and more health care is subject to religious directives that prohibit certain types of care, ranging from miscarriage management to treatment of ectopic pregnancies, to gender-affirming care, to end of life care. These restrictions are rooted not in sound medical science, but rather in administrators’ ideology, and the resultant denials of care too often jeopardize people’s lives, wellbeing, and dignity, and, in some cases, have proven deadly. Hospital consolidation can leave entire regions of the state where people cannot access necessary health care.

Gabriella’s project seeks to uncover health care deserts across New York state, with an emphasis on rural communities. This project develops solutions to intercede in hospital mergers to preserve access to care; educate people so that they can make informed decisions about their health care; challenge the use of religion to discriminate against patients seeking reproductive care, as well as LGBTQ people; and, ultimately, lay the groundwork to eliminate health care deserts in New York state.

As a queer woman of color who grew up religious, Gabriella knows and understands firsthand how religion can be weaponized to harm others and how law and policy can deeply shape one’s sense of self. Gabriella’s experience working on a range of civil liberties issues, including reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights, as an intern, research assistant, volunteer, and advocate made her the right person for this project.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Gabriella has:

  • Collaborated with a community coalition to intervene in a proposed merger between a secular hospital and religious health care system in Schenectady to help educate the public and elevate the impact of religious directives on reproductive health care and LGBTQ-inclusive care
  • Connected with community organizations and health care providers to gather evidence of denials of care at hospitals subject to ethical and religious directives
  • Co-authored amicus briefs in Weichman v. Weichman and Carpenter v. James, which argued that religion cannot be used to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation
  • Submitted a public comment to the NYS Public Health and Health Planning Council advocating for enforceable conditions to preserve comprehensive health care in a hospital transaction
  • Worked on the Princess Janae Place v. NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance litigation team, a case suing the state benefits agency for discriminating based on gender identity against nonbinary New York residents seeking public assistance
  • Engaged in research and strategic thinking on how to challenge discrimination in hospital settings, specifically relating to sex and pregnancy discrimination
  • Conducted research to support legislative efforts to ensure religion is not used to discriminate

Next Steps

In the next year, Gabriella plans to:

  • Continue engaging in targeted advocacy and developing enforceable mechanisms to preserve reproductive health care and LGBTQ-inclusive health care in Schenectady
  • Continue investigating religious hospital consolidation and denials of care through public records requests, community outreach, and monitoring the NYS PHHPC for religious hospital transactions
  • Develop materials for public education and legislative advocacy on how religious restrictions jeopardize access to health care
  • Develop materials related to legislation that would give New York the tools necessary to identify areas in the state where particular types of care are unavailable and prospective patients the tools necessary to determine whether their local hospital provides the care they seek before admission
  • Continue identifying opportunities to draft and file amicus briefs challenging the use of religion to discriminate and identifying opportunities to submit public comments on religious hospital transactions that threaten to limit care

 Media

The Bronx Women’s Bar Association Hosts Legal Program on Reproductive Rights

Introducing the 2020 Fellows Fighting for the LGBTQ+ Community

Five NYU Law Graduates Named 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellows

NYCLU Calls on State To Require Abortions at Catholic Hospital in Lockport

State Approves Plan for New Lockport Hospital

New Catholic Health Hospital Gets NYS Health Panel Approval Despite Opposition

No person should be denied health care because of a provider’s religious beliefs. I am grateful for the opportunity to combine my lived experiences and passion for reproductive, social, and economic justice to protect people seeking reproductive health care and LGBTQ New Yorkers from discrimination.

Gabriella Larios /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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