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Jessica Marcella

Deputy Assistant Secretary For Population Affairs, Health And Human Services

Jessica Marcella is a longtime advocate of reproductive health, rights, and justice. She has held several policy and advocacy roles, in government offices, and public affairs and advocacy organizations. Her most recent role was vice president at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, a membership organization which represents providers and administrators of Title X clinics. Marcella’s appointment signals an abrupt departure of the previous administration’s restrictive reproductive health agenda.

Marcella Was Reported As The Biden-Harris Administration’s Pick For Deputy Assistant Secretary For Population Affairs

Politico Announced Jessica Marcella Had Been Tapped To Oversee Reproductive Health As Deputy Assistant Secretary For Population Affairs, HHS. “The Biden administration has tapped Jessica Marcella, who was vice president of advocacy at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, to be HHS’ deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. She will lead the office responsible for policy on abortion, contraception and sexually transmitted infections. [Politico, 5/11/21]

Marcella Sharply Criticized The Trump Administration’s Attacks On The Title X Family Planning Program

In Response To The Trump Administration’s Domestic Gag Rule, Marcella Vocalized Concern Over The Anticipated Disruption Of Services At Title X Clinics. “The Trump administration acted Friday to bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, energizing its conservative political base ahead of crucial midterm elections while setting the stage for new legal battles. The Health and Human Services Department sent its proposal to rewrite the rules to the White House, setting in motion a regulatory process that could take months. Scant on details, an administration overview of the plan said it would echo a Reagan-era rule by banning abortion referrals by federally funded clinics and forbidding them from locating in facilities that also provide abortions… Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents clinics, said requiring physical separation from abortion facilities is impractical and would disrupt services for women. "I cannot imagine a scenario in which public health groups would allow this effort to go unchallenged," Marcella said.” [Peninsula Daily News, 5/13/18]

Marcella Stated That The Domestic Gag Rule Denied Patients’ Their Dignity. “The notion that you would withhold information from a patient does not uphold or preserve their dignity,' said Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents family planning clinics. [The Guardian, 5/18/18]

Marcella Commented On The Trump Administration’s Intrusive Approach To Title X…“Despite decades of being a relatively nonpartisan program, Title X -- the only federal grant program exclusively for family planning and reproductive health -- is gearing up to be front and center of a debate about abortion. On Friday, the Trump administration will reportedly propose a rule that prohibits Title X funding from going to organizations that perform or support the procedure…“They’ve moved away from the core tenet of Title X, which is nonintrusive care,” says Jessica Marcella, vice president of advocacy and communications at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.” [Governing, 5/15/18]

…And Criticized How Trump-Era Restrictions On Title X Led To The Disintegration Of Safety Nets—Which Were Meant To Address The Reproductive Health Needs Of Marginalized Communities. Some health clinics that quit the federal family planning program over Trump anti-abortion policies are cutting staff, charging for services that had been free and making other austerity moves to avert a major hollowing out of reproductive health care for poor women. At least four state health departments, hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics and dozens of independent providers have withdrawn from the more than $250 million Title X program... “We're watching the safety net disintegrate right before our eyes,” said Jessica Marcella, the vice president of advocacy and communications at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which represents staff at thousands of Title X clinics across all 50 states. [Politico, 9/2/19]

Marcella Noted That Texas Title X Restrictions, Which Predated The Trump Administration’s Title X Changes, Offered A Glimpse Into The Danger Of Prioritizing Ideology Over Public Health. “The changes at the federal level mirror policies that some conservative states have been pursuing for years. For a glimpse into this new era of Title X, experts suggest looking to Texas. In 2011, Texas passed a law that cut state family planning dollars by 66 percent and redirected state family planning funding away from reproductive health clinics and toward general primary-care providers. “Texas was very instructive,” says Jessica Marcella, vice president of advocacy and communications for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, an organization that opposes the new cuts. “If the [Trump] administration is successful, health outcomes could be severely impacted. The fact is, when you move away from science, you’re ignoring public health.” [Governing, 3/4/19]

Reproductive Health And Rights Organizations Applauded Marcella’s Appointment

Planned Parenthood Federation Celebrated Marcella’s Appointment. “We applaud the appointment of Jessica Marcella, who we expect will be an important part of the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to protecting and expanding access to the full range of health care we all need to thrive…Marcella has spent her career championing sexual and reproductive health care, both from inside government as a congressional staffer, and outside it as a committed advocate. Among her positions, Marcella served as vice president of advocacy and communications at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, where she worked to enhance the ability of thousands of nurse practitioners, doctors, and other health professionals to provide high-quality family planning care through training and advocacy. Marcella's significant congressional and advocacy experience will serve the Biden-Harris administration well as it works to protect and advance access to sexual and reproductive health care for all people.” [Planned Parenthood, 5/10/21]

The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association Said Marcella’s Appointment Reinforces The Biden-Harris Administration’s Commitment To High-Quality Family Planning. “On behalf of the network of publicly funded family planning providers and administrators dedicated to ensuring high-quality family planning and sexual health care, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) commends the Biden-Harris administration for choosing a highly qualified, well-respected Title X expert to lead its efforts to restore and rebuild the nation’s family planning program. “Jessica Marcella has a keen sense of the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s family planning safety net and a demonstrated commitment to elevating access, quality and equity in health care. Today’s announcement serves as a much-needed signal to public health stakeholders, the family planning provider network and the sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice movement that this administration takes seriously its responsibility to address the significant challenges faced by individuals seeking essential reproductive health care services in our country.

“The work ahead is urgent, and Jessica Marcella’s appointment as DASPA is just one of many actions the Biden-Harris administration will take to not only repair the damages resulting from the siege on sexual and reproductive health by the previous administration but to drive necessary changes in our nation’s health care infrastructure.” [National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Associates, 5/10/21]

Zara Ahmed, International Policy Officer At Guttmacher Institute, Tweeted Her Excitement In Response To Marcella’s Appointment. 

[Twitter, 5/10/21]

Essential Health Access, Which Leads The California Title X Program, Also Tweeted A Congratulatory Statement. 

[Twitter, 5/10/21]





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