We at OBOS are saddened to report that Barbara Seaman, co-founder of the National Women’s Health Network, noted feminist, women’s health activist, and author, died this morning. Seaman’s life and work leave much to be celebrated, as she was a tireless advocate for informed consent and exposing information on hormonal medications, including publication of the breakthrough 1969 book “The Doctors’ Case against the Pill,” which led to Congressional hearings on oral contraception and ultimately to the first safety warning on the drug.
Born in 1935 and an Oberlin College graduate and Sloan-Rockefeller Science Writing Fellowship winner at the Columbia University School of Journalism, Seaman authored and contributed to numerous additional works on women’s health topics during her career, including “The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth,” “For Women Only!: Your Guide to Health Empowerment,” and “Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones.” Seaman also edited a collection of essays by major figures from feminism and women’s health, “Body Politic: Dispatches from the Women’s Health Revolution.”
Gloria Steinem has high praise for Seaman, stating, “There is no single person on earth who has done more to advance women’s health, to make an intimate difference in millions of women’s lives, and to inform consumers so they can transform healthcare.”
OBOS’s own Judy Norsigian has also recognized Seaman’s impressive contributions: “Barbara has been a steady beacon and truth-teller in the women’s health movement for almost half a century. I consider myself so lucky to be among the hundreds of students and activists she has supported and guided over the years. She has helped Our Bodies Ourselves at so many critical junctures with both practical and philosophical issues, including her successful efforts to find a publisher — Seven Stories Press — for the 2000 edition of ‘Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas.’ ”
Profiles and Remembrances:
- National Women’s Health Network bio
- Barbara Seaman: A Remembrance by Jennifer Baumgardner
- Barbara Seaman, 72; author sparked modern women’s health movement – LA Times
- Barbara Seaman: Muckraker for Women’s Health – 10/03, Women’s eNews
- “Dear Injurious Physician” – In Memorium: Barbara Seaman, Sept. 11, 1935-Feb. 27, 2008
- Materials on and statement from Seaman for the “Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution” exhibit
- The Pill and I: 40 Years On, the Relationship Remains Wary – June 2000 piece by Seaman for the New York Times
- Wikipedia entry on Seaman
Update: Norma Swenson, one of the founders of Our Bodies Ourselves, has written a tribute to Barbara that we’ve posted at the OBOS website.