Elise Higgins

Elise Higgins smiling

Contact Info

307 Blake Hall


Elise (she/they) is a PhD candidate in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department with a specialization in reproductive rights and justice and public policy. Their dissertation focuses on the political development of abortion stigma and the social construction of pregnant people and abortion providers.

In her time at the University of Kansas, Elise has been awarded an Emerging Scholar in Family Planning grant from the Society of Family Planning. Elise’s teaching has also been recognized with a Carlin Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. 

Elise’s career has spanned dental care access, queer and trans rights, Medicaid policy, and municipal elections, but her primary focus over the past 16 years has been reproductive health, rights, and justice. 

During the doctoral program, Elise served as the Director of Policy, Reproductive Rights at State Innovation Exchange, supporting state legislators in their leadership on abortion rights and other aspects of reproductive justice. Between 2013 and 2017, Elise served as the Director of Public Policy and Organizing for Kansas and Mid-Missouri at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, where they lobbied the Kansas Legislature, directed regional legislative, organizing, and electoral work, and represented Planned Parenthood to local and national media. She is also the past Vice President of the Kansas Abortion Fund and the past President of the URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity board of directors. Elise has been quoted in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rewire News, and many Kansan publications. 

Elise lives in Lawrence with their husband, their delightful 1 year old, and their ancient dog.