Ellen Marshall

I began working on women’s issues 20 years ago on Capitol Hill. Since then, I have held senior roles overseeing programmatic and advocacy work for several NGOs; and served at the State Department, where I was Coordinator of Population issues and served on the US delegations to the ICPD, the Fourth World Conference on Women and the World Summit on Social Development.

A Win for Contraceptives

Thursday the House of Representatives confirmed that domestic family-planning programs serve a crucial public health need — despite protests from some anti-contraception legislators.

Prevention Prevails

Congress voted Thursday to enable family planning organizations that cannot accept financial support from the United States to at least receive contraceptives to provide to their clients.

The Amendment Was the Pitts

Rep. Pitts tried to remove a provision in the Foreign Operations Bill that would enable the President to waive the abstinence-until-marriage earmark in global HIV prevention.


Admittedly, I don't think of Concerned Women for America (CWA) as a beacon of graciousness—but its latest move it simply over the top—classless, crude and utterly disrespectful. The sexual and reproductive health community—and more importantly family, friends and loved ones—recently lost a talented, lovely soul in the person of Cynthia Dailard. CWA's response? Attack—even after Cynthia is gone.

Bush Whacks Sexual and Reproductive Health Funding

Lest there be any confusion, the Bush Administration has little values for and no understanding of the need for sexual and reproductive health services. The only question is whether that's due to a complete lack of understanding of human health needs or because undermining sexual health appeases his far-right political base. Need evidence? Check out Bush's budget request.

First Thing…Prevention First

Thankfully - and signaling progress in the area of sexual and reproductive health - one of the first bills introduced in the Senate on the opening day of the 110th Congress was the Prevention First Act (S. 21). This common-sense, cost-effective, health service approach to simultaneously reduce the incidence of abortion and promote good health was introduced by anti-choice Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Reid introduced a similar bill in the previous Congress (though it was doomed to go nowhere). We have crossed fingers that the makeup of the new Congress will enable a better outcome this time around.

Breaking the Promise: The Politics of Domestic HIV Prevention

Our country's founders left us all many pearls of wisdom and word to live by. Ben Franklin of course was full of them, including "An ounce of prevention is a worth a pound of cure" and "Half the Truth is often a great Lie." These words couldn't be any more relevant than when they were furst uttered in the 18th century - yet policy makers reject this solid advice, particularly when it comes to public health, especially anything that has to do with sexual relations.

A concise and to the point SIECUS report lays out just how the Administration and their partners-in-crime in the Congress have actually prevented good prevention policies - leaving the United States stalled in reducing the number of new HIV infections. "Breaking the Promise: The Politics of Domestic HIV Prevention" describes some of ways opponents of practical, effective and evidence-based prevention measures have hijacked resources, vilified condoms, and redirected attention elsewhere.

But HIV IS a Reproductive Health Issue

At a recent briefing by the folks at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Jimmy Kolker asked about whether any PEPFAR funded programs were going to focus on providing the HPV vaccine to adolescents, given that this would also build capacity for rolling out other vaccines in the future. Kolker's response was a bit of an admonition to remember that this is the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (emphasis on AIDS). He said that OGAC is interested in integrating HIV/AIDS services into reproductive health services, but they won't be working to integrate reproductive health services into HIV/AIDS services. Hmmm.