Charlotte Ellertson, a leading advocate for women's reproductive rights, died of breast cancer Mar. 21, 2004, in Boston. She was 38.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ellertson moved to the US with her family at age 13. She attended Harvard, where she studied biological anthropology. At Princeton, she earned an MPA and a PhD in demography and public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School.
Ellertson's college experience as an abortion counselor fired her zeal for family planning research and outreach. After graduation, she worked in Kenya as a clinic liaison for a family-planning soap opera broadcast in Swahili. Subsequently she developed research projects and programs dealing with abortion, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and obstetrics for the Population Council, an international nonprofit science research group.
In 2002 Ellertson founded Ibis Reproductive Health, an international nonprofit focused on women's reproductive rights research and advocacy. She was instrumental in securing FDA approval of RU-486, an abortion-inducing pill. She also hoped to secure FDA approval for over-the-counter emergency contraception.
In addition to her work, Ellertson loved exotic animals, the Boston Red Sox, and cooking with her young daughters, Marka and Amity. She also is survived by her husband, Paull Hejinian.