Jen Heitel Yakush


Jennifer Heitel Yakush is Director for Public Policy at SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the Untied States, a national non-profit organization that advocates for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality, and sexual health services. In this capacity, Jen concentrates her efforts on public policy and advocacy in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights at the federal level by conducting policy maker education in the United States Congress and the Executive Branch. Previously, Jen served as Senior Associate for Communications at Catholics for Choice, where she implemented CFC’s communications strategy to educate the public about reproductive health and rights, separation of church and state and other relevant issues, with particular emphasis on media relations and campaign promotion. She has also served as State Policy Coordinator at Advocates for Youth, where she focused on championing efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Jen sits on the Board of Directors of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) and is a member of the National Advisory Council for Sexual Health convened by former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. She also serves as a clinic escort with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force (WACDTF). Jen holds a B.A. in International Affairs and a concentration in International Women’s Studies from George Washington University.

HHS Refusal Clause Threatens Patient Conscience

The concept of conscience has been repeatedly manipulated, especially in the context of reproductive health and rights. While some have pointed to Catholic teaching to support the imposition of ever-more restrictive refusal clauses, they do not, reflect the Catholic position.

No More Money for Abstinence-Only Programs

Jen Heitel Yakush is Public Policy Associate at SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the Untied States

In early June 2006, just over 200 organizations launched No More Money in an effort to stop funding for harmful and ideologically driven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. The list of supporting organizations, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, has now reached close to 300 and ranges from HIV/AIDS organizations to pro-choice organizations, from organizations committed to GLBT rights to organizations committed to disability rights, and from education organizations to medical, scientific, and public health organizations. The Campaign exists because over $1 billion has thus far been spent on these programs. The medical community has never supported these programs and polling consistently shows that the American public agrees that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are failing our nation's young people and that government funding spent on these ideologically driven programs is a waste of valuable resources and the wrong direction for health education.