Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH

Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Science

Dr. Upadhyay’s work encompasses two overarching themes: the effects of women's empowerment and gender equity on reproductive health and improving access to contraception and abortion care for vulnerable populations. Her current research focuses on understanding and documenting the impact of state-level abortion restrictions on women’s lives. In particular, she focuses on restrictions related to medication abortion and ultrasound requirements. She is also studying the safety of abortion using Medi-Cal data from California State’s Medicaid program. Dr. Upadhyay’s research interests also focus on measures of women’s empowerment and assessing its influence on contraceptive use, abortion decisions, and fertility. Dr. Upadhyay has developed and validated the Reproductive Autonomy Scale to quantitatively measure the power to decide about and control matters related to contraceptive use, pregnancy, and childbearing, which researchers can incorporate into interview assessments in a variety of evaluations and research contexts. She recently received a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award to study gender-based power among young people and its effect on contraceptive use. She is co-author of Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers, a Johns Hopkins/WHO/USAID publication providing evidence-based guidance on the provision of contraceptive methods. 


  • American University, Bachelor's in Communications and International Studies
  • Columbia School of Public Health, Masters in Public Health
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Doctorate

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