Policy prioritization dynamics after the implementation of Illinois’ Public Act 100-0538
Awarded 2020
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Aalap Bommaraju, MPH
University of Cincinnati

Aalap Bommaraju (they/them) explores how people transform reproductive care through everyday cultural and political practices. They are a sociologist with specialization in the sociology of medicine, reproduction, social movements, and race. One of their primary research projects explores outcomes after a 2017 state-level victory in Illinois that regained abortion coverage for Medicaid recipients. Through grounded theory analysis of in-depth interviews with 17 leaders in the Illinois abortion policy community, 23 abortion providers from 15 clinics in Illinois, and 15 abortion policy advocates from 14 non-profit organizations, they have come to recognize how race, gender, and professional differences both divide and bring people together in state-level reproductive health policy coalitions. To explore how activists grapple with inequities inherent to policy advocacy on the state-level, Aalap has been conducting participant observation of administrative practices at an Illinois-based abortion fund. They have worked with organizational leaders to develop a community-based participatory research project to incorporate abortion patients’ voices into coalition policy prioritization processes. A research assistant housed in the organization, Aalap, and a team of help line volunteers will work together over the course of 2020 to collect the perspectives of 150 abortion patients who received financial assistance through the organization. Interviews covering abortion experiences, areas for improvement, and policy demands will be transcribed and analyzed by Aalap, the research assistant and the team of help-line volunteers. Funding from the SFPRP Emerging Scholar program will support Aalap’s time and the research assistant’s time as they disseminate results in the Summer of 2021.