Karen A. Scott, MPH, MD, FACOG 

Associate Professor & OBGYN Hospitalist

Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences Department

University of California, San Francisco 

Dr. Karen A. Scott, MD, MPH, FACOG, is a Reproductive. Justice (RJ) informed sexual, reproductive, and perinatal (SRP) epidemiologist and obstetric hospitalist whose work integrates the social sciences and humanities into participatory health services and quality improvement (QI) research. Currently, Dr. Scott is an associate professor and OB/GYN hospitalist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF). As a “dissident, disruptive, and recovering” board certified OBGYN and critical public health scholar, her work examines interventions to eliminate and reduce disparities and inequities in SRP health services provision, through the integration of a Black feminist and Reproductive Justice (RJ) Praxis , in the afterlife of slavery and passage of the Congressional Act of 1807 (which took effect in 1808, prohibiting further participation of the United States in the slave trade.). 


 In Chicago, she founded and lead an urban community hospital-based initiative, Young Women’s Health Initiative (YWHI), the parent organization of multiple evidence based and informed programs and practices adapted into routine health care settings for first time low income pregnant and parenting persons on Chicago’s south side. With private and state funding, a community advisory of adults and youth of color, and a dynamic 100% Black women team including an ob-gyn, nurse supervisor, nurse home visitors, licensed clinical professional counselor, and program coordinator, YWHI offered free voluntary services such as nurse home visiting, group socialization, and infant mental health through a trauma informed, reproductive justice, and youth centered lens. Given the co-location of services and programs within a health care system, YWHI also provided full spectrum care for entire families beyond sexual, reproductive, and perinatal health.

A Black feminist-RJ Praxis informs the ethical considerations, theoretical concepts, methods, and methodologies in her research, practice, pedagogy, and policy analysis. Her primary goal is to develop a program of participatory justice and equity-based research to examine the association between structural gendered racism and clinical cognition, assessment, diagnosis, provision of services, and shared decision-making processes during hospital based SRP services. Her participatory QI research characterizes the structural, sociocultural, and clinical constructions of reproduction, pregnancy, labor, and birth within hospitals and health systems, through the voices, lived experiences, and scholarship of Black women, mothers, and birthing people. A secondary goal is to examine the provision of health services in the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum units as sites through which gendered racism and obstetric racism can be understood within patient-clinician, patient-system, and community-system interactions, across time, place, and levels of power.  She is particularly invested in disrupting the erasure and erosion of scholarship of Black cis, queer, and trans women and non-binary person in SRP health services research, public health approaches, and QI initiatives, as a means to justify a paradigm shift towards a radically Black centered, diverse, equitable, and inclusive sex- and pleasure-positive and gender affirming framework that broadens sexual intention and motivation beyond the purpose of reproduction and family planning.

Program Implementation, Adaptation, and Evaluation

  • Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) nurse home visiting model to improve maternal and children and social outcomes
  • NFP program enhancements included group socialization through implementation of SIHLE, H2H and Girls Circle Model
  • Sisters Informing, Healing, Living, and Empowering (SIHLE) CDC approved teen pregnancy and STI/HIV prevention model
  • Heart to Heart (H2H) innovative children sexual abuse prevention program through education and empowerment of young mother
  • Girls Circle Model – SAMHSA approved evidence-based program to increase positive connection, personal and collective strengths, and competence in girls.

Curricula Development and Implementation

  • Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Sex Positivity
  • Trauma Informed Sexual Health History Taking
  • Trauma Informed Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Intersectionality, Reproductive Justice, and Health Equity
  • Reproductive Justice in Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Contraceptive Justice

Selected Publications

Leonard S, Main E, Scott K, Profit J, and Carmichael S. Racial and ethnic disparities in severe maternal morbidity prevalence and trends. Annals of Epidemiology. 2019;33:30-36. View in: PubMed

Scott, KA, Britton L, and McLemore, MR. The ethics of perinatal care for Black women: Dismantling the structural racism in “mother blame” narratives. J Perinat Neonat Nurs. 2019;33(2):108-115. View in: PubMed


Scott KA, Bray SRM, Asiodu I, McLemore MR. An inconvenient truth: You have no answer that Black women don’t already possess. An open letter to, birth workers, clinicians, funders, perinatal and systems re-designers and policy makers.Black Women Birthing Justice Blog. Available at http://www.blackwomenbirthingjustice.org/single-post/2018/10/31/An-inconvenient-truth-You-have-no-answer-that-Black-women-don%E2%80%99t-already-possess. Published October 31, 2018.