"Many people have problems with access to health care. Reproductive health care, as an aspect of health care that is stigmatized, can be even harder to access. In the context of social justice, I’m committed to improving access to health care for women, especially in relation to contraception and abortion in the current political environment."
Health disparities; sexual and reproductive health; cancer prevention; partner violence; social justice; social work education
Associate Professor Gretchen Ely’s teaching interests include diversity and oppression, community organizing and reproductive justice. Her scholarship focuses on access to reproductive health care for vulnerable women.
Her recent research examines the understudied experiences of abortion fund patients—those who receive financial assistance to pay for unaffordable abortions—using secondary data analysis. This research indicates that abortion fund patients experience notable personal hardships and barriers to abortion access. She has received grant funding from inroads: The International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma to develop an evidence-based, trauma-informed clinical tool to promote the reduction of abortion stigma during the abortion seeking experience. Ely has also received funding from the Society of Family Planning to study women’s unmet reproductive health needs in the context of the opioid epidemic in Appalachia.
Ely is a full fellow in the Society of Family Planning, one of only a few social science fellows with a social work background. She is also a distinguished social work scholar and fellow with the National Academies of Practice, where she serves on their executive committee as vice president of public policy. She additionally serves as a board member for Social Workers for Reproductive Justice, and she is a member of the Rural Social Work and Human Services Caucus, the Society for Social Work and Research and the Social Work in Health Inequities Network.