Ellen Brilliant

More than half my life has been dedicated to advocating for reproductive health services and rights for women and their families.  I cut my teeth on the issues serving as Vice President for Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. During my decade-long tenure, I was responsible for the organization’s multi-state government, media, and community relations programs. Leading a strong coalition, we — against the odds and polling numbers –defeated three anti-choice ballot initiatives and numerous legislative bills.

What Birth Control Bonanza?

So there is no misunderstanding, let me be clear.  

I am a big proponent of improving the convenience, safety, and efficacy of available contraceptive methods.  I am grateful that women today neither suffer the severe side-effects experienced by first-generation pill users, nor are forced to try desperate options like using crocodile dung and honey to prevent an unintended pregnancy. 

Getting It Straight on Pregnancy

Oftentimes it seems like unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy are used interchangeably.  Even more problematic, one is often mistaken for the other, leaving both misunderstood by policymakers and the public.  Despite the obvious overlap, they are not the same. However, both are equally important to address at the systemic level -- each deserving its own attention.   

When is it Time for “The Talk?”

So the other day I was at a fund raiser... A friend and I were talking, and her 5-year-old son was there. As we talked, he was minding his own business, playing with his toy cars. But then we heard his little voice - "Mommy, what is Planned Parenthood?"

Despite always being open with her child, I could see the panic set in. There could be a whole conversation behind that question before she ever got to an answer. Isn't it too soon for "The Talk?"

Perhaps not. As the organization SIECUS writes, "sexuality education is a lifelong process that begins at birth."

The Onion’s Take on Contraception?!

With Andrea's post from the other day fresh in my mind, I set out to find my issue-du-jour, and I came across a 1999 satirical column from the always-irreverent newspaper, The Onion.

In an Onion column, "I'm Totally Psyched About This Abortion!," fictional author Caroline Weber writes, "The funny thing is, I actually have the pro-life movement to thank for this opportunity. If my HMO wouldn't have bowed to their pressure not to cover oral contraceptives, I never would've gotten pregnant in the first place."

Quieting Her Roar

Last week, we wrote about Cecelia Fire Thunder’s courageous effort to open a reproductive health center on the Pine Ridge Reservation and the pending impeachment for her actions . For a variety of reasons -- but mainly for women who will be denied access to cancer screenings, affordable birth control, abortion, and other care -- we are extremely disapointed to report that Fire Thunder was “ousted” as president of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council. A challenge is expected.

It Wasn’t Just Hamlet Thinking “Get Thee to a Nunnery”

Gloria Feldt, longtime reproductive health advocate and former Planned Parenthood president, has an excellent piece on Women's eNews that's definitely worth a look.

She writes about how an "intrinsic and generalized hostility to women--is still getting passed over" by the media in their discussions about attacks on birth control and reproductive rights. Lost in the coverage is the reality faced by women who may have rights, but for whom access is being politically opposed and denied for "moral" reasons.

Hear Her Roar

Cecelia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux Nation, has started an uprising.  In an effort to build a clinic that would provide abortion to the women of South Dakota, Fire Thunder not only is taking on one nation, but two.  

I have never met her.  Still, she reminds me a lot of the women I met while working at a reproductive health care center. 

Strong.  Courageous.  Determined. 

Today, Fire Thunder faces impeachment -- as a result of her plans to provide reproductive health care to women.  While her plan all along, it was her public response to legislation banning abortion in the state that created the much publicized thundery-fire-storm.  Because Pine Ridge is under federal jurisdiction and not state, her plan could include abortion services. 

Are They For Real?

It's a move characterized by the Washington Post as a "potentially explosive issue among religious conservatives."  Just hours ago, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made a recommendation without dissent that young girls receive a newly approved cervical cancer vaccine as a preventive measure.

Seems like a no-brainer, but anti-birth control, anti-abortion, and anti-sex crusaders doth protest. 

The UN-friendly Skies

We couldn’t overlook this one – and those living in the Twin Cities won’t be able to either.

Darcy Pohland, from WCCO news, reports “For the past few days, a plane has flown around the Twin Cities pulling a banner with a picture allegedly of an aborted fetus.” A fly-by was reported over the Minneapolis Stone Arch Festival, downtown, and elsewhere.

Literally creating the buzz, is the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. They state, "We readily admit where we display these pictures, born children are upset. It must also be said that where we don't show them, unborn children are killed."

Tapping Your Inner Buffett

You are cordially invited to join the unofficial “Buffett Booster Club” today – and you don’t need billions to leave a mark of your own.

From coast to coast, from the New York Daily News to the San Francisco Chronicle, the media is buzzing with stories about Warren Buffett’s magnanimous donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As Mr. Buffett states, "Huge fortunes that flow in large part from society, should, in large part, be returned to society.”

Much like that proverbial shot heard round the world, Buffett’s billion dollar gift will touch the lives of millions of individuals from around the globe. It will be used to enhance and expand the already internationally recognized work of the Gates Foundation including “fighting such diseases as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.”