October 22, 2012

Why We Need to Educate Congress

Should medical associations really have to correct members of Congress?

As recent events have shown, clearly they do. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued two statements in the past two months correcting false information about pregnancy and abortion that was promoted by elected officials.

In late August, ACOG responded to Rep. Todd Akin’s comment, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” that sparked the Missouri Sex-Ed Road Trip. ACOG said his comments were “medically inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous.”

Then on Saturday, ACOG responded to Rep. Joe Walsh’s comment that thanks to “modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” where an abortion was required to save the life of a mother.

ACOG refuted Walsh, noting: “In fact, many more women would die each year if they did not have access to abortion to protect their health or to save their lives.”

Unfortunately, these legislators’ blatant misrepresentations of women’s bodies, while extreme, highlight a larger, more universal problem: Policies and legislation related to women’s reproductive health are not always based on accurate, evidence-based information.

That’s what spurred us to create Educate Congress , a campaign to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. We’ve raised over $3,000 — more than 10 percent of our goal — in just the first few days.

Today at 1 p.m. , the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., is hosting a Newsmaker event to announce this effort and to discuss the central importance of evidence-based reproductive health policy in women’s lives.

Speakers include Judy Norsigian, OBOS’s founder and executive director; Erin Thornton, who is representing Every Mother Counts (Christy Turlington, EMC’s founder, was scheduled to be here but can’t make it — we’ll miss her!); and Vivian Pinn, the former director (now retired) of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health.

Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families, and Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, will also be available to answer questions about what Congress can do to improve women’s health.

We prepared a fact sheet showing how Congress can advance evidence-based reproductive health policy — the full list of recommendations is available at OurBodiesOurselves.org/congress-fact-sheet.asp.

Let us know what other issues you’d like to see Congress take on, using the best evidence-based information available. Leave your comments and we’ll share them on Facebook and Twitter. We’re all in it together to keep members of Congress from saying — and doing — anything else that hurts women.


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