Archive for April, 2009

April 30, 2009

This Just In: David Souter to Retire from Supreme Court – Possible Replacements Mentioned

david_souterNPR’s Nina Totenberg reports that Supreme Court Justice David Souter, 69, plans on retiring at the end of the current court term:

Factors in his decision no doubt include the election of President Obama, who would be more likely to appoint a successor attuned to the principles Souter has followed as a moderate-to-liberal member of the court’s more liberal bloc over the past two decades.

In addition, Souter was apparently satisfied that neither the court’s oldest member, 89-year-old John Paul Stevens, nor its lone woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery over the winter, wanted to retire at the end of this term. Not wanting to cause a second vacancy, Souter apparently had waited to learn his colleagues’ plans before deciding his own.

Given his first appointment to the high court, most observers expect Obama will appoint a woman, since the court currently has only one female justice and Obama was elected with strong support from women. But an Obama pick would be unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court.

Souter was appointed in 1990 by former President George H.W. Bush. View his court writings here.

Back in February, in the wake of Ginburg’s bout with cancer, the Washington Post speculated on court retirements. The story noted that Souter had told friends he was tired of Washington and wanted to return to a scholarly life in his native New Hampshire. White House advisers were already working on a short list for the court in the case of a retirement this summer.

Among the names mentioned were former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, who Obama named as his solicitor general; Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit; Judge Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit; and Stanford University law professor Kathleen M. Sullivan.

The Washington Post tonight reported that the list may also include Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and former Georgia Supreme Court chief Justice Leah Ward Sears.

Looking at Souter’s voting history, the The New York Times recalled two important cases:

During his confirmation hearing, Judge Souter said he had no agenda on abortion and had not made a decision on how he would vote if the issue of Roe v. Wade was put before him. A major abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, arrived at the court in his second term and was argued on April 22, 1992. It was widely expected that Roe v. Wade would be formally or functionally overturned because by then another abortion rights supporter, Justice Thurgood Marshall, had retired, and he was replaced by Justice Clarence Thomas.

But the result was just the opposite. Justice Souter, joined by two other Republican-appointed justices, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy, who had earlier both expressed strong doubts about Roe v. Wade, collaborated to produce a highly unusual joint opinion that reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion. With Justices Harry A. Blackmun and John Paul Stevens joining the central parts of the joint opinion, the vote was 5 to 4.

Justice Souter was in the minority, and a bitter dissenter, in the case of Bush v. Gore, the 5-to-4 decision that ended the disputed Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election and effectively declared George W. Bush the winner.


April 30, 2009

Obama: Freedom of Choice Act “Not Highest Legislative Priority”

Now that we’re over the 100-day hoopla, what did you think of President Obama’s remarks last night concerning abortion and the Freedom of Choice Act? Here’s the full transcript of both Obama’s address and the Q&A that followed.

In a speech Obama gave to Planned Parenthood Action Fund on July 17, 2007, the then-presidential candidate said, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” He referenced it again in 2008, on the 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Of course, Congress first would have to pass FOCA. And to do that, the bill would have to be introduced. As Amy Sullivan explained earlier this year, there’s little chance of that happening anytime soon — but that reality hasn’t stopped anti-choice crusaders from making its defeat one of their top legislative priorities.

The question was asked by CNN senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. My thoughts are below.

* * * *

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks, you’re going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame. And, as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion.

As a candidate, you vowed that one of the very things you wanted to do was sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above — quote, above my pay grade.

Now that you’ve been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator.

Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?

OBAMA: You know, the — my view on — on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.

I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they — if they suggest — and I don’t want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women’s freedom and that there’s no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

The reason I’m pro-choice is because I don’t think women take that — that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day. And I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a president of the United States, in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their clergy.

So — so that has been my consistent position. The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again.

And so I’ve got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp, to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.

Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose. But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that’s — that’s where I’m going to focus.

* * * *

I understand why, with 1,063 pressing concerns — and with an excellent record so far on women’s reproductive health here and abroad — Obama is not prioritizing FOCA. But to say so quite clearly, when both supporters and opponents are leaning in, listening closely for signs of commitment, came as a bit of a surprise.


April 30, 2009

And On Day 101 … A Look Back at Obama’s First 100 Days in Office

Sure, grading President Obama after just 100 days in office may be absurd, but it sure is popular. Here’s a look at how Obama has measured up on issues of particular interest to our readers:

- “Are your reproductive rights more secure today than they were 100 days ago? How about the human rights of women around the world? Are we making progress toward universal access to basic sexual and reproductive health services, comprehensive sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment here and abroad?”  Emily Douglas of RH Reality Check offers answers to these questions and more in this informative report card.

Obama scores highest on global women’s rights and reproductive health and women’s economic equity. When it comes to sexuality education and teen pregnancy prevention, RH Reality Check gives Obama a “C.”

- C. Nicole Mason, a political scientist and executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, writes at Women’s eNews: “For women of color, it’s also the time to mark a new era of political visibility and prominence.”

Since he took office, Obama has appointed or nominated eight women to his cabinet or other high-level leadership positions and more than 50 percent of these nominees have been women of color. This is not only more than any other U.S. president, it’s a watershed moment in the history of women of color in this country.

Hands down, the standout appointment is Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. She is a pro-labor activist from La Puente, Calif., who has served as congresswoman for the majority Latino 32nd district representing East Los Angeles for eight years. In a time of severe economic crisis and record unemployment rates, she will bring to the policymaking table an unparalleled understanding of the issues facing low-to-moderate income working families and immigrants.

Mason goes on to identify other key players serving in influential positions — such as Lisa Jackson, who will head the EPA; Melody Barnes, director of domestic policy; and Cassandra Butts, deputy White House counsel — and provides some historical context.

- “As progressives, we can nearly always find something to complain about, but now more than ever, it’s time to celebrate this new direction and saddle up for the work ahead,” writes Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, before introducing Planned Parenthood’s picks for the Top 10 Women’s Health Achievements.

Counting backwards: 10. Repealed the global gag rule; 9. Moved to overturn the HHS midnight regulation; 8. Supporting teens’ health over ideology; 7. Expanding access to family planning; 6. Restored affordable birth control; 5. Formed the White House Council on Women and Girls; 4. Nominated strong women’s champions to key cabinet posts; 3. Expanding access to Plan B; 2. Focusing on AIDS outreach; 1. Committed to health care reform.

- Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro Choice America, says her group is marking the milestone “as yet another reminder of how electing leaders who support the fundamental American values of freedom and privacy does make a difference in the lives of women and their families.” Keenan identifies seven signs of change so far but warns of a “a long and bumpy road to progress” ahead.

“There will be budget debates, a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court, and more,” writes Keenan.

- On LGBT … “If Barack Obama were a student in a high school civics class, he’d be getting a pretty good grade for class participation. Compared to the rows of sullen, silent Presidents behind him, he would look like a gay rights brown-nose,” writes attorney Emma Ruby-Sachs at Huffington Post.

“But 70% of LGBT voters came out in support of Barack Obama because they expected that the support for equal rights expressed on the campaign trail would result in action for LGBT people once Obama was in office,” she adds. “And when it comes to actual change in the lives of LGBT people, nothing has been done. Obama has failed to hand in any of his assignments.”

Plus: Need a visual reminder? The White House has produced its own photo slide show. Or watch the past 100 days in 100 seconds. OK, it runs longer than 100 seconds, but who’s counting?


April 30, 2009

Devoted to Women’s Pleasure: Dr. Betty Dodson

Entrant: Dr. Tuppy Owens
Nominee: Dr. Betty Dodson, Pioneer teacher, writer, and artist

internal-clitoris-copyBetty is the GrandMummy of female masturbation and the unsung heroine of the century. If she had been working in any field other than sex, and masturbatory sex at that, she would be world-famous, Dean of a University, international authority with her own her own sex castle, island and yacht. Glamorous mass media star.

As well as everything else, Betty is an extraordinary erotic artist. Betty is beautiful, warm and outspoken, and has devoted her life to women’s pleasure. After asking her mother if she masturbated to orgasm in the 70′s, Betty asked the rest of us. Soon her Manhattan flat was the home of workshops for pre-orgasmic women, and these workshops continue today, run both by Betty and by her disciples around the world.

Betty’s first book, “Liberating Masturbation: a Meditation on Selflove,” was written, illustrated and published by herself. She wants all women, including disabled women, to be able to read and learn about masturbation. Betty decided to have an EEG whilst masturbating and apparently, immediately when she flicked the switch on the vibrator, her brain waves went into alpha and stayed there all the way through the sexual build-up.

Then, just before orgasm, her brain waves dipped way down to theta, confirming what she intuitively knew, that masturbation is a delightful form of meditation.

After a long time of working alone, Betty got a book published, “Sex for One – the Joy of SelfLoving,” which sold over a million copies and was translated into eight languages.

“For partner sex to be good, the woman must know what she wants and be able to show her lover,” says Betty. “Women have to teach men about female sexuality, not pattern our sexual desires on what men want. That’s the opposite of what typically happens – young men who know little or nothing about sex end up taking the lead, and young women blame themselves when they can’t have orgasms.

Betty Dodson is now 80 and still pushing the boundaries. Two years ago, she made a film “The Internal Clitoris” which shows her drawing the clitoris from the long horse-shoe structure deep inside, all the way through the tissues to the external glans, which most people still think of as the clit. This film is free to view on YouTube, and became a finalist in the 2007 Erotic Awards as Independent Film of the Year.

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April 30, 2009

Unsung Hero for Women with Endometriosis: Shelley Houchin

Entrant: Colleen Carroll
Nominee: Shelley Houchin, Endometriosis Association Support Program Coordinator

Shelley is an unsung hero for many women who have endometriosis.  She is an angel, a blessing, and a friend.

Shelley is very compassionate, helpful, and genuinely cares about each and every woman who calls the Endometriosis Association (EA) and asks for help and support.

Shelley has been “the wind beneath my wings” for a long time and I do not know if I could manage my endometriosis and chronic pain without her.

I live in a small town in Northern Michigan and was looking for further treatment.  Shelley suggested a doctor in California.  Shelley also was able to arrange for my mother and I to travel to California at no cost to us.  There is a program through the EA that helps women receive free airfare if they can’t afford it.

There is not enough room and time to express my gratitude to Shelly.  She is simply amazing and I am honored to nominate her for this award.

Thank you very much!


April 30, 2009

Every Mom is a Hero: Carolynn Ernst

Entrant: Rachael Longo
Nominee: Carolynn Ernst, Associate VP of Health Center Operations, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

dsc00952Every Mom is a hero.

The love of a mother, the work of a mother, is enough for that title. My mom is not only a hero for raising me and my two siblings, but also for her lifelong dedication to women everywhere.

Carolynn Ernst has been working as an adult and family nurse practitioner for over 30 years. She is currently the Associate VP of Health Center Operations of a 26 health center, three-state affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has been fighting for women’s rights her whole life. She is a life-long learner; never accepting that she has enough knowledge to continue in her field, she has continued her education throughout her career, even earning a post-graduate Family Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of Vermont, while raising three kids and working full-time.

She has marched in Washington to ensure a woman’s right to choose. She has been brave in the face of terrible threats from anti-abortionists who have called in bomb threats to her clinics or sent suspicious letters, possibly containing anthrax. And she has continued on, marching forward, never wavering in her belief and conviction that a woman should be in charge of her body, be able to feel proud of her body and her decisions and most of all, feel beautiful and confident, no matter what road they choose in life.

My mother gave me pride, self esteem and self worth, courage and determination. She gave me the freedom to dream big and never allows me to give up on myself or those that I love. She did all of this, while dedicating her life to women everywhere, educating and caring for them, teaching them how to care for themselves and prevent unwanted disease and pregnancy.


April 30, 2009

A Lifesaver: Jeannie May

Entrant: Ms. Steele
Nominee: Jeannie May, Founder of Living Sphere

jeanniemay

Jeannie May has been involved in support for people living with herpes for over seven years. She runs a herpes support line, provides support and information on her websites, blog, social network and a variety of forums.

She is always available 24/7 for anyone needing support, assistance and encouragement in coming to terms with having this incurable virus.

Jeannie actively promotes awareness in the media whenever she has an opportunity, including appearing on TV and talking about the fact that she has genital herpes herself. Her passion, dedication, courage and bravery have made her respected and admired within the herpes community and beyond.

Her willingness to talk openly about her experiences living with this social taboo has encouraged and empowered others to open up about herpes – it does not mean the end of a person’s love life as so many fear it is.

Her achievements are many:

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April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Concerns Draw Attention to Need for Midwives, Sick Leave

The swine flu news of recent days has sparked calls from advocacy organizations for attention to issues that a pandemic may exacerbate, such as the lack of paid sick leave and the lack of  of availability of licensed midwives to attend home births.

MomsRising, a campaign to bring “important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country’s awareness,” includes paid sick leave among the concerns it addresses. They note that advice from officials has been to stay home if sick, in order to avoid further transmission of the virus, but that:

This is easier said than done. In the U.S. today, nearly half of workers aren’t allowed to earn paid sick days (i.e. they don’t have a single paid sick day to take when illness strikes in order to keep our communities healthy and not spread illness). And more than half of the workforce does not have or cannot use paid sick days to care for sick children.

The group has further discussion here, including a link to a petition in support of paid sick leave.

Additionally, The Big Push for Midwives campaign issued a release (PDF) yesterday calling on policy makers to support and legalize Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) for the provision of out-of-hospital birth in the scenario that hospitals are an undesirable place for otherwise healthy pregnant women. CPMs currently are “legally authorized to practice in just over half the states and are eligible for Medicaid reimbursement in fewer than a dozen states.”

Colette Bernhard, Vice President of Illinois Families for Midwifery, explained:

Hospitals filled to capacity with flu patients are unsafe and inaccessible places for healthy women to deliver their babies….legal and reimbursement barriers at the state and federal level prevent far too many Certified Professional Midwives, who already have the necessary training and equipment, to utilize their services to the fullest. Given the very real possibility of a flu pandemic, the need to fully incorporate CPMs into our health care system could not be more urgent.

Russ Fawcett of The National Birth Policy Coalition called for states “to get on board and license CPMs to practice legally” and argued that “it is every bit as critical that our federal policy makers require Homeland Security to include CPMs—who function as mobile primary care facilities for pregnant women—in disaster planning at local, regional, and national levels and as eligible providers for the National Health Service Corps.”

Relatedly, the CDC has issued “Interim Guidance—Pregnant Women and Swine Influenza: Considerations for Clinicians” – guidance addresses the presentation of the disease in pregnant women, prevention, treatment, and breastfeeding considerations.

For more information on swine flu generally, see the CDC website (with news and resources for both the general public and clinicians), CDCemergency on Twitter (you don’t need an account to follow the updates), and this consumer health page from MedlinePlus.


April 29, 2009

Recognizing the “Big Picture” of Women’s Health: Dr. Barbara Keddy

Entrant: Josephine B. Etowa
Nominee: Dr. Barbara Keddy, Professor Emeritus, Dalhousie University

keddy_2521_I am writing to nominate Dr. Barbara Keddy of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as a Women’s Health Hero. I have known her for over a period of ten years, in various capacities, including being my course professor, thesis supervisor, and more recently as a colleague, mentor and a partner in a number of research projects in the area of Black women’s health.

Based on my observation of Dr. Keddy in these capacities and from talking with other colleagues, I will describe Dr. Keddy as an exemplary health scholar and women’s health advocate. She goes beyond the call of duty to address the needs of the women around her, especially women from marginalized populations. This is evident in the nature of her personal research and those of her graduate students.

In acknowledgement of the need to promote diversity and social inclusion in nursing, Dr. Keddy has not only dedicated  her own research to addressing these issues, she has also encouraged beginning scholars like myself to engage in this area of research. Over the past few years, I had the opportunity to work with her on a number of research projects addressing the health needs of women with a focus on the health of Canadian women of African descent; a historically forgotten group in the health literature.

She has collaborated with women in the community to complete a number of capacity-building projects including two studies titled “Menopause and midlife health of African Nova Scotian women” and “Black women’s health in remote and rural Nova Scotian Communities.”  She has been an excellent role model, a great mentor and inspiration for many people including myself. My experience of doing research with Dr. Keddy has been one of the most positive. She makes me feel that my perspective is a vital aspect of the project.

Dr. Barbara Keddy is an outstanding individual who has great insights and shows exemplary integrity and leadership as a person, a professional nurse and as a scholar. I find her to be a warm and approachable colleague and mentor. Her exceptional ability to foster community capacity building and to recognize the “big picture” for the future of women’s health research is commendable. She has tremendous impact on my personal and professional growth, fostering an empowering environment that has enabled me to successfully develop a career as a university professor and a scholar from my early interactions with her as a minority student.

In conclusion, Dr. Keddy is someone I admire and respect for her personal integrity and many outstanding contributions to the nursing profession, women’s health movements and society in general. In particular, her collegiality, dedication to hard work, and readiness to encourage, mentor and support others into leadership roles is exceptional. She is a most deserving candidate for the Women’s Health Hero recognition.


April 29, 2009

Improving the Care Women Receive: Dr. Tito Lopes

Entrant: Jeannette Preston
Nominee: Dr. Tito Lopes, Lead Gynaecological Cancer Surgeon at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Truro, Cornwall UK NHS

a8pantscopyDr. Tito Lopes is the lead Gynaecological Cancer surgeon at the Royal Cornwall Hospital here in the UK. He heads an amazing team who work hard to deliver the best possible care in Cornwall, and we know we are blessed to him have.

Tito’s skills take him worldwide where he shares his knowledge with those who know him to be a master in his chosen field; they watch his surgery and learn. He has held extremely important posts in the UK, including being President of the Gynaecological Society. He is recognised as a pioneer in his work and held in high esteem in the world of gynaecology.

Not only is Tito an expert, he is also an inspirational man to the women he cares for, who all love him. I speak to many of the women he has performed surgery on, since they come to my website for support, or telephone me, or attend educational days where he, and the team, are guest speakers. They are fulsome in their praise of him and find his kindness overwhelming. He listens, and gives hope, and as a survivor of gynaecological cancer myself and one of his patients, I know how important that is.

When I began PANTS, a charitable organisation raising awareness of gynaecological cancer, Tito became involved and, along with his team, have been willing to take part in everything I have suggested to raise awareness. This included the entire team appearing in their pants for PANTS in the Calendar I produced for 2009. By doing this they showed empathy to the women in their care, and helped to sell calendars and raise much needed funds.

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April 29, 2009

Fighting Fatigue and Offering Hope: Sandy Robinson

Entrant: Self
Nominee: Sandy Robinson, Fighting Fatigue CFS/FM Website Owner

new-sandyI have been ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Fibromyalgia (FMS), and Interstitial Cystitis for almost 20 years.  As a chronically ill patient, wife and mother, I have had to learn how to balance life while being sick all of the time.  It has also been difficult emotionally trying to deal with these illnesses.

In order to keep myself sane, and to show support and to help others, I decided to start the Fighting Fatigue website over three years ago.  During that time, I have had over 300,000 visitors and I am currently receiving over 25,000 visits a month.  I respond to emails and offer advice and tips to others who suffer like I do, and I also try to share my personal life and journey with chronic illness.

I bear my soul at times in hopes of helping someone else realize that they are not alone.


April 28, 2009

Breaking News: Senate Approves Sebelius to be HHS Secretary

The U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be secretary of Health & Human Services. The vote was 65-31.

From the AP:

Sixty votes in the 100-seat Senate were necessary for approval. Immediately after the vote Sebelius resigned as governor in Kansas and headed to Washington to be sworn in. She drove directly from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to the White House, where she took her oath in the Oval Office.

“We wanted to swear her in right away because we’ve got a significant public health challenge that requires her immediate attention,” Obama said, standing beside the last Cabinet official to win Senate approval.

That “significant public health challenge” would be the swine flu (symptoms check). The White House even posted photos of Sebelius being briefed in the Situation Room.

With no HHS secretary up until now (about that …), and with other key positions still unfilled, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been helping to lead the White House’s response to the outbreak. Here’s a look at some other health-related positions that need filling:

Sebelius, 60, a two-term Democrat, was the first of 20 HHS officials requiring Senate approval to win it, and she heads to work with many team members missing. The Senate hasn’t acted on Obama’s nominees for deputy HHS secretary or commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Obama hasn’t even nominated people for other key jobs, including surgeon general and assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

There’s also not been an appointment for head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another component of the sprawling HHS, which has 65,000 employees and a $750 billion budget.

Plus: Reaction from NARAL.


April 28, 2009

Taking Back Birth: Ina May Gaskin

Entrant: Venessa Tarbell
Nominee: Ina May Gaskin, Midwife, Director of the Farm Midwifery Center

Ina May Gaskin has been a tireless advocate for midwifery and the health of women for nearly forty years. Her unyielding faith in the ability of a woman’s body to birth a child, her trust in the process of birth, and her courageous criticism of unnecessary interventions in a woman’s pregnancy and labor have inspired countless mothers to take back their births. Her books are an inspiration to all who remain fascinated by the mother-fetus relationship and the process of childbirth.

When I was pregnant, I began questioning procedures that have become routine and the commonly accepted myth that childbirth is unavoidably terrifying. Ina May’s words reassured me that birth can and should be empowering and beautiful. I know that I am only one of many, many women who found comfort and inspiration in her writing and activism.

Thank you, Ina May!


April 28, 2009

Quality of Life: Jessica LeRoy

Entrant: Mark LeRoy
Nomninee: Jessica LeRoy, Clinical Director

jleroyoutdoor1I want to nominate my hero and my wife, Jessica LeRoy.

She had quite the tumultuous childhood rife with abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse. As a teenager she fell into drugs, alcohol, and ditching of classes. She had a great time in high school since it was one big party to her. When she made it to her senior year she was informed that she would not be graduating because she had failed too many classes.

That was a very pivotal point in her life.

It was proof as to how she felt about herself on the inside: stupid, worthless, and a failure. She ended up just barely graduating from high school, and then went on to a community college. From there she transferred to the University of Southern California where she was on the Dean’s List every semester, graduating with honors and a GPA of 3.8. Although the entire time she felt like a fraud. Afraid someone would find out she was really the loser she felt like.

A few years later after working at an art gallery and then in the entertainment industry, she started to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. She decided that this is what she was meant to do. She went back to school and received her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. When she thinks back on her history she is shocked that she was a girl who barely graduated from high school and now has a Master’s Degree with honors.

From there she started her private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in the Psychology of Women (www.jessicaleroy.com) and had a full case load within the first 4 months of opening. Currently, she is the Clinical Director of a center for women that she created. The goal of her new center is to help empower greater numbers of women to experience the quality of life they are striving for.

What she realized through her history and career path was that the chaos in her childhood and her own struggles with failure made her who she is today. She would not be able to do the work she does helping other women had she not struggled herself. I am sure there are still times she feels that someone is going to pull back the curtain and reveal that she is “failure,” but that it is not who she is anymore.

I am very inspired by my wife and think her story will be inspiration to others as well.


April 28, 2009

Who’s Your Women’s Health Hero? Tell Us by Midnight on Friday

womens_health_heroes

More than 60 heroes have been nominated so far in the first ever Our Bodies Ourselves Women’s Health Heroes Awards. Included among them is an environmental peace activist; a professor of human sexuality; a state senate president; a public health nurse; an activist against genital mutilation; doulas, midwives and women who have founded organizations advocating for safer, more comfortable births; founders of websites on chronic illness, menopause and teen sexuality … the list goes on.

It’s inspiring and even a bit overwhelming to see dozens of heroes described  in such heartfelt ways. The best part is getting introduced (or reacquainted) with so many people who have made a difference. See for yourself.

If you’ve been thinking about nominating someone — or nominating yourself — don’t delay. The deadline is this Friday, May 1. We’ll take new submissions up until midnight. Here’s what you need to know about submitting a nomination.

And please keep reading and voting for your favorite health heroes. The voting deadline is May 8.