Understanding Medicaid’s role in low-income women’s decisions to sterilize
Awarded 2020
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Sara Johnsen, MPP, MA
University of California, Los Angeles

Sara is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA and a Trainee at the California Center for Population Research, and completed her MPP in social policy at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. Her dissertation uses mixed methods to investigate the policy, behavioral, and interactional mechanisms driving racial and socioeconomic differentials in women’s contraceptive behaviors. This work reflects her research interests in the social safety net, the politics of reproduction, the family, and the sociology of medicine. Utilizing restricted geographic data from the National Survey of Family Growth and focusing on women with Medicaid-funded deliveries, Sara’s project asks whether the likelihood of postpartum tubal ligation differs based on Medicaid eligibility thresholds in the state in which women reside—i.e., on whether women are likely to lose Medicaid coverage in the postpartum period. She will also investigate whether lower Medicaid eligibility thresholds are associated with higher levels of sterilization regret and desire for reversal. Finally, given well-established racial disparities in reproductive health care and a long history of sterilization abuse targeting women of color, she will investigate whether any of these relationships vary by race or ethnicity.