Archive for the ‘Activism & Resources’ Category

January 3, 2013

Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary Events

This January 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

Many local and national pro-choice and reproductive justice organizations will be holding events to mark this anniversary. Here are a couple we know about, including one we’re excited to co-sponsor with many great organizations in our home state. Know of others or want to share your own? Please tell us in the comments!

Roe v Wade 40th anniversary Massachusetts eventIn Massachussetts, we’re co-sponsoring the Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary Legislative Breakfast and Lobby Day at the State House on January 14. You can sign up to attend the breakfast, with keynote speaker Paula Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and/or the lobby events, a chance for you to meet with elected officials after a brief advocacy training. Please sign up online to participate.

In Manhattan on Jan 14, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health is hosting “Roe Revealed: Doctors Tell Their Stories on the 40th Anniversary of Legalized Abortion,” with Dr. Willie Parker, Dr. Linda Prine, and a special guest. The event with these abortion providers is $20; additional tickets are required for the reception.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is holding its annual Blog for Choice Day on Jan 22. This year, they’re asking participants to share their own stories of why they’re pro-choice. As usual, you can sign up online to join in.

While there’s plenty of reason to celebrate 40 years of Roe, legislative attacks on reproductive and sexual health and choice continue around the country. In 2011 alone, U.S. lawmakers enacted 92 abortion-restricting provisions in bills designed to curtail women’s rights to health services. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that number shattered the previous single-year record of 34 such provisions enacted in 2005. Such laws make it more difficult, and painful, for women to exercise their legal right to terminate a pregnancy.

What will you do this year to ensure reproductive justice for all? For starters, check out Our Bodies, Our Votes, our resource for fighting back against attacks on women’s health and rights. While you’re there, order a sticker and submit your picture to our awesome Click It, Stick It, Share It tumblr.

History of Abortion in the U.S. – an “Our Bodies, Ourselves” excerpt
The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: A Teachable Moment, by Linda K. Kerber

December 21, 2012

Fan of Female Condoms? Enter International Film Contest

If you’re a filmmaker with an interest in spreading the word about female condoms, check out this contest from PATH, a global health organization:

Why does the world need female condoms? How can female condoms enhance your life? Submit a short film (1:00–5:00 minutes) that tells a story about what Female Condoms Are to you and your community. The deadline to enter is March 1, 2013.

First prize receives $5,000. Winning entries will also be screened at the 2013 Women Deliver conference. Full details and rules are on the contest website.

To learn more about female condoms, see our previous posts and this excerpt from the most recent edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

December 13, 2012

Our Bodies Ourselves Goes to Nepal: Women’s Health Activists Discuss Cross-Border Surrogacy

Women in Udaipur, eastern Nepal with WOREC founder Dr. Renu Rajbhandari (far left) and the OBOS Nepali booklets to which they contributed. Photo / Judy Norsigian

In early October, I had the honor of co-leading a workshop in Kathmandu on the growing popularity of cross-border surrogacy arrangements with two colleagues from the New Delhi-based Sama Resource Group for Women and Health and Dr. Renu Rajbhandari, founder of the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC).

Already a booming business in India, where estimates suggest that 25,000 couples a year travel to arrange surrogacy contracts and there are about 1,000 surrogacy centers, this practice is soon expected to extend to Nepal, where poor women with limited economic opportunities will likely be attracted by the prospect of earning money by bearing children for others.

In some parts of India, women are now offered fees ranging from $5,000 to $7,000, amounts that represent up to 10 years of earnings for people in rural areas.

The workshop, hosted by WOREC, OBOS’s global partner in Nepal, brought together women’s right activists from across the country to better understand the growing market in cross-border reproductive health care, its implications for Nepal, and the most effective strategies to educate and empower women.

Surrogacy Legislation in India
Participants included two nurses from the Kathmandu-based IUI (intrauterine insemination) clinic, several health counselors, a psychosocial counselor for women with fistulas, a family planning coordinator, the editor of a quarterly women’s magazine, several members of Women’s Human Rights Defenders, a nursing professor, an advocate with Save the Children, and a staff person from a rural women’s radio station in eastern Nepal. Languages used during the workshop were primarily Hindi and Nepali, with English translation offered as needed.

Sarojini and Preeti, our colleagues at Sama, provided an excellent overview of surrogacy in India, including a description of assisted reproductive technology (ART) legislation now being hotly debated in Parliament. One provision in the controversial bill would require that a woman entering into a contract surrogacy agreement undergo an embryo transfer rather than be inseminated with the intended father’s sperm.

Since insemination would be much safer, many workshop participants felt that a choice should be offered. An embryo transfer places the woman at greater risk by exposing her to powerful hormones that prepare her body for the pregnancy and to surgical procedures required to physically transplant the embryo into her uterus.

The proposed law assumes that a woman using her own eggs will be more likely to change her mind at birth and decide she wants to keep the baby than a woman who becomes pregnant with an embryo created with another woman’s eggs. There is poor evidence to support this assumption.

Participants at the Kathmandu workshop on cross-border surrogacy arrangements.

Preparation in Nepal
By their very nature, commercial surrogacy arrangements are created by contracting couples and agencies whose primary interests typically do not reflect the needs and concerns of women recruited as gestational mothers.

This is why groups like Sama and WOREC are advocating for public policies that will protect gestational mothers and ensure they receive evidence-based information about risks and benefits in a manner they fully understand. Policies must also ensure follow-up care and effective recourse if things go wrong.

The women at the workshop want to be better prepared in case a similar bill is introduced in Nepal. Sarojini, Preeti and I shared practical information about the various ART techniques involved in surrogacy and explored, with our Nepali colleagues, ways to preserve the health and rights of women agreeing to be surrogates. Most participants were quite unfamiliar with the whole topic of ARTs and asked many questions about the medical, social and economic impacts.

Why Language Matters
We also screened two documentary films about surrogacy – Made in India, by New York City-based filmmakers Vaishali Sinha and Rebecca Haimowitz, and Would Like to See Baby Bump Please, a new film just released in India by Sama — and discussed the importance of using language sensitive to all the parties involved in a surrogacy arrangement.

For example, the term “reproductive tourism” carries the image of couples vacationing in their pursuit of parenthood. In most cases, these trips are stressful and a far cry from the typical tourist experience. Using alternative language such as “cross-border commercial surrogacy” is one way to avoid such innuendo.

Similarly, referring to a gestational mother as a “surrogate mother” or “gestational carrier” can belittle and objectify her central role as the woman carrying a pregnancy for nine months and then giving birth. Many at the workshop preferred the descriptive, less diminishing term “gestational mother.”

At the end of the workshop, we developed a number of recommendations for moving forward.

Meeting Local Activists
After the workshop, I traveled with Renu to Udaipur in eastern Nepal, where she introduced me to many younger women at the WOREC center, including some who contributed to WOREC’s set of six Nepali health booklets, recently adapted from Our Bodies, Ourselves.

I also visited a group of young women who are the sole staff for a radio station in Udaipur, where egg cartons provide the sound proofing in their recording studio. They frequently address women’s health topics in their programming and invite community conversations about sexuality, domestic violence and the environment.

Although I had met Renu briefly when she traveled to Boston for OBOS’s 40th anniversary symposium in 2011, the many hours of chatting while we drove over mountainous terrain cemented a special friendship I now treasure. I have a new appreciation of her remarkable leadership over the past several decades and was deeply impressed by her efforts to pass the torch to a younger generation.

A trip to a fairly remote mountain village was particularly inspiring. The women had successfully lobbied for village development council funds to create a small multipurpose women’s center. Though a bit run-down, it was getting a lot of use and clearly a sign of how effective some women’s groups have been over the past decade.

The provisional constitution for the country still has not passed, but its contents – including funding for legal abortion – offer great hope for the future of women’s reproductive rights and justice in Nepal.

This article was originally published in the winter 2012/2013 Our Bodies Ourselves newsletter. View the full newsletter.

December 13, 2012

From Prevention to Palliative Care: Changing the Face of HIV/AIDS Outreach in Rural Nigeria

By Eyitemi Mogbeyiteren

In 2011, three members of our outreach team were kidnapped in the Delta State of Nigeria. We were held captive for several weeks, during which we were repeatedly raped, and only released after a ransom was paid to the kidnappers. Soon after, we learned that all three of us had tested positive for HIV.

My name is Eyitemi Mogbeyiteren, and I work with Women for Empowerment, Development and Gender Reform. Our goal is to ensure that poor grassroots women in the South-West region of rural Nigeria have information on their bodies and health, adapted from the trusted book Our Bodies, Ourselves, so they make choices that protect their reproductive and sexual needs and dignity.

HIV is rarely talked about in our community, and people living with the virus are inevitably discriminated against and cast out by their friends and family. Over the years, our organization has worked hard to unravel myths about the virus — its transmission, prevention and treatment — and fight the terrible stigma and isolation faced by those infected.

But as more people become ill, we continue to see families despair and grieve as their loved ones die without medicines, care and support. Drugs cost approximately $15,000 per person in my community — an amount that is beyond the grasp of many people!

After being diagnosed, I experienced a lot of the same discrimination and isolation. I was shunned in my community and my family stopped speaking to me for a long time. With my own health failing, there were many moments when I felt I could not live, could not stand people saying things about me.

It felt like the end of the road, until I decided to raise my voice and change the fear and shame into something positive.

We are now expanding our HIV/AIDS outreach to include palliative care — care that relieves not only the physical but also the emotional, spiritual and socially generated suffering faced by a person infected with the virus. It is one of the most valuable services that can be offered to someone with terminal illness and their family. Unfortunately, it’s availability in my community is zero!

Using Our Bodies, Ourselves as our tool yet again, our plan is to train ourselves on this holistic and critical model of care, and bring our services to our women via support groups and home visits. We will also develop a training manual for other caregivers, including family and community health workers, so they can comfort their loved ones and clients.

And, to get word out, we will organize an “itinerant exposition” on board a bus. This vehicle — our Anti-Rape, Anti-Kidnap and HIV/AIDS Bus — will carry 12 activists around the country for 18 months, unleashing our materials, our knowledge and our passion. It will allow us to serve women beyond our community, to empower them with information on HIV/AIDS and self-defense skills to protect them from rape and kidnap.

And if we are able to raise the funds, we will distribute the drugs needed to prolong life — drugs that are the right of every human being to access, drugs that are impossible to find in my community.

OBOS is assisting Eyitemi and her colleagues at WEDGR with strategies, promotion and in-kind donations, and by generating funds for this critical work. If you would like to help with this effort, contact Ayesha Chatterjee at ayesha AT

This article was originally published in the winter 2012/2013 Our Bodies Ourselves newsletter. View the full newsletter.

December 11, 2012

Lies Straight From the Pit of Hell and Other Comments on Biology and Women’s Health

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory … all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Comments like these are 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. Because these comments really were spoken by members of Congress.

And that’s not the only problem. Misinformation is too often used as the basis for crafting bad policy, which is why we’re working to show how Congress can advance evidence-based reproductive health policy, based on science and fact. Reproductive health policy pertains to issues such as birth control, abortion, breast and ovarian cancers, the effects of environmental toxins on women’s health and fetal development, and more.

We’re into our final countdown, with just eight days left to reach our goal of raising $25,000 to deliver books to every member of Congress and key members of the administration and government agencies whose work involves health care policy.

You can select a specific representative or senator to receive the book or donate to the general fund. There are great perks to show our thanks, including stickers, tote bags, signed copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” by OBOS founders and Gloria Steinem, and a signed Legitimate Road Trip poster commemorating the drive from Chicago to St. Louis with The Ladydrawers to rush sex-ed materials to Rep. Todd Akin.

Please help us reach our goal — because, really, doesn’t everyone deserve access to comprehensive sex-ed?

November 19, 2012

What Do You Want Congress to Know About Women’s Bodies & Health?

We’ve been amazed by — and grateful for — the comments left by supporters of the Educate Congress campaign about why the site matters to them and what they want Congress to know about reproductive and sexual health.

During the recent election cycle it became all too apparent that there is a *lot* that some members still need to learn. Speaking from my experience, I want Congress to understand more about the science behind conception. Rep. Paul Ryan was a co-sponsor last year of HR 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which states that “human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.”

I’m hoping members of Congress will stop proposing “personhood” legislation that would potentially ban some forms of contraception, such as the birth control pill, and threaten the health of women and their families in numerous ways (see this fact sheet from the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a group that formed to fight personhood legislation in that state).

What do you think Congress should know about women’s bodies and health?

Tell us what you  think Congress should know when you join our campaign to Educate Congress. It can be something based on your health, the health of a family member or friend, or a community need or policy change.

Then make sure to share your message here on the blog, post it on our Facebook page, or tweet it using the hashtag #EducateCongress.

Our Bodies Ourselves has long believed that women’s stories and experiences inform what we know about women’s health. Who better to educate Congress than all of us?

November 6, 2012

What Today’s Election Means for Women

National Women's Law Center voter education

Health care reform. Access to contraception. Increased protections for women against violence. Equal pay.

A lot hangs on this presidential election.

On the state level, personhood amendments that grant fertilized embryos all the rights of a born human didn’t make it onto any ballot, but two states, Florida and Montana, have put restrictive abortion initiatives before voters.

The National Women’s Law Center has published a voter education section with a number of useful links, including fact sheets on issues affecting women and great images to share — like the one on the left by Jen Sorensen.

For more on the election and the importance of women voters, visit Women’s Vote Watch 2012, a project of the Center for American Women and Politics that tracks and analyzes polling data. Here’s a section on the gender gap and voting.

Finally, if long lines get you down, just think of Galicia Malone of Dolton, Ill., who stopped to vote this morning on her way to give birth.

The clerk’s office said Malone’s water had already broken when she made the stop to vote in her first presidential election.

“If only all voters showed such determination to vote,” [Cook County Clerk David] Orr said. “My hat goes off to Galicia for not letting anything get in the way of voting. What a terrific example she is showing for the next generation, especially her new son or daughter.”

And remember, no matter who wins, we still have to work on educating Congress about women’s health …

November 2, 2012

Indiegogo Promotes Educate Congress Campaign!

En Español

Indiegogo homepage

We are over-the-moon thrilled today to announce that Indiegogo is featuring the Educate Congress campaign on its homepage. What an honor for Our Bodies Ourselves!

A huge thanks to all our supporters for donations and driving attention to our efforts — all of you helped to rock the gogofactor!

More good news: we’re also almost one-third of the way to our goal of $25,000! Think we can reach 40 percent this weekend? With your help, we may make it!

There’s no shortage of reasons to educate Congress, starting with the most blatant and insulting comments about rape, abortion, and women’s health that legislators and political candidates just can’t seem to stop making (welcome to the club, John Koster).

We’re also concerned about numerous policy issues and legislation affecting reproductive health that don’t reflect evidence-based information. As one supporter wrote:

As a registered nurse in community health I know how vital accurate information is. … Join me to improve public health by educating our most vulnerable and underserved congressional representatives!

Another shared why he’s backing Educate Congress:

I am particularly pleased to support this cause because I am male, and I want to make it clear to those who would consider this a self-serving cause for females that enlightened males recognize how much “Our Bodies, Our Selves” contributes to the well-being of all humans, regardless of gender.

You can view more messages and add your own by clicking the comments tab at Educate Congress. We’re so grateful for the enthusiasm we’re getting from all corners — including Indiegogo!


Indiegogo Promueve Nuestra Campaña para educar al Congreso!

Hoy estamos muy emocionadas por anunciar que el sitio Indiegogo tiene nuestra campaña de Educate Congress (Educar al Congreso) (enlace en inglés) en su página principal.  ¡Que gran honor para Our Bodies Ourselves!

Queremos agradecer a todos aquello/as que nos han apoyado. Gracias por sus donaciones y por atraer atención hacia nuestros esfuerzos. ¡Todo/as ustedes nos ayudaron a llegar tan lejos!

Más buenas noticias: ¡Ya tenemos casi un tercio de nuestra meta de $25,000! ¿Crees que podamos llegar a 40% este fin de semana?  ¡Con tu ayuda, si podemos!

No hay falta de razones para educar al Congreso, empezando por los insultos más obvios sobre las violaciones, el aborto, y la salud de las mujeres que los legisladores y candidatos políticos no paran de decir (bienvenido al club, John Koster).

También estamos preocupadas sobre el gran número de políticas y leyes sobre la salud reproductiva que no reflejan información basada en buena evidencia. Como ha dicho una persona que nos apoya:

Siendo una enfermera de salud comunitaria entiendo lo importante que es la información. ¡Unete a mi para mejorar la salud pública educando a aquellos que son más vulnerables y a representantes del congreso que no se merecen su puesto!

Otro seguidor compartió porque él también apoya nuestros esfuerzos:

Me gusta esta causa particularmente porque soy hombre, y quiero que sea claro para aquellos que consideran que esta es una causa exclusiva para mujeres que hay hombres cultos que reconocen cuanto “Our Bodies Ourselves” contribuye al bienestar de todos los humanos, sin tener en cuenta el género.

Puedes ver mas mensajes y añadir uno si haces click en los comentarios de Educate Congress. Estamos muy agradecidas por todo el entusiasmo por todos lados – incluyendo Indiegogo!

October 31, 2012

What’s Scarier, Creepy Cats or an Uneducated Congress? Take the Quiz!

by Rachel Walden & Christine Cupaiuolo

This Halloween, ask yourself: Which is scarier — Furry creatures that scamper in the night? Or a Congress ignorant of how reproduction and women’s bodies work?

Unsure? Take a quick quiz to find out which frightens you more!

1. (A) Possessed Vampire Kitty

Possessed Vampire Kitty


(B) Legislators claiming that pregnancy from “legitimate rape” is really rare because women’s bodies can just “shut that whole thing down,” and suggesting that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

2. (A) Golden-Eyed Vampire Kitty

Golden-Eye Vampire Kitty


(B) A member of Congress believing that thanks to ”modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” of abortion being necessary to protect the health or save the life of the mother.

3. (A) Fork-Tongued Vampire Kitty

Forked Tongue Vampire Kitty


(B) Forcing women to undergo unnecessary and medically unwarranted procedures,  such as a transvaginal ultrasound, in order to obtain an abortion [HR 3805]. (If you’re in Pennsylvania and you don’t want to view the images, just close your eyes!)

4. (A) Lord Cattula

Lord Cattula


(B) Holding a Congressional hearing on contraception with no women present?

From left, Reverend William E. Lori, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., Reverend Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, C. Ben Mitchell, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy Union University, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Director Straus Center of Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University and Craig Mitchell, Associate Professor of Ethics of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, testify on Capitol Hill. | AP Photo

If you consistently selected “B,” then you’re more scared of misinformed policy and inaccurate statements about how women’s bodies work!

What can you do to change the conversation and protect yourself from misinformation? Join the Educate Congress campaign!

We’re delivering copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to every senator and representative so they have access to accurate, evidence-based information about reproductive health — and you can be part of this important effort.

Because nothing is more scary than legislators drafting policy that harms women — not even Meow Mix …

Credit: Cat photos

1. Possessed Vampire Kitty / Opacity on Flickr
2. Golden-Eyed Vampire Kitty / Digidave on Flickr
3. Fork-Tongued Vampire Kitty / mohd fahmi on Flickr
4. Lord Cattula / sgatto on Flickr


October 29, 2012

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry: New Documentary on History of the Women’s Movement

A new documentary, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” chronicles the history of the women’s movement from 1966 to 1972, including the genesis of Our Bodies Ourselves, the founding of NOW, and other historical milestones.

The filmmakers are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to finish the project, and have a little more than a month to go. Check it out to learn more about the project and consider supporting their efforts.

The creators note that the film doesn’t aim to romanticize the women’s movement and will cover controversies “over race, sexual orientation and leadership that arose.”

Here’s a clip with the founders of Our Bodies Ourselves talking about their perspectives on women’s health and women’s bodies more than 40 years ago. Included is a discussion of their first women’s health course, organized when they were in their 20s, and turning their collective knowledge into a book. (Neat fact: the first version they distributed was run off on a copying machine, making it perhaps the first zine ever.) The clip includes lots of images from the early editions. of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”


October 23, 2012

Educate Congress – Highlights from Our Bodies Ourselves at the National Press Club

National Press Club OBOS event

Marion McCartney, Cindy Pearson, Diana Zuckerman, Judy Norsigian, Erin Thornton, Vivian Pinn with National Press Club organizer Debra Silimeo / Photo: Angela Edwards

It’s official: Washington knows we’re coming.

Our Bodies Ourselves kicked off the Educate Congress campaign Monday at the National Press Club, joined by some of the smartest and most influential experts on women’s health. The campaign aims to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to every member of the U.S. House and Senate.

Judy Norsigian, OBOS founder and executive director, spoke about the clear need to provide Congress with accurate, evidence-based information, particularly in the wake of some outlandish and indeed dangerous comments about women’s bodies.

Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, said, “What seems to be going on somewhat right now is public figures’ willingness to make statements of fact that are so badly wrong.”

Other speakers included Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families; Erin Thornton, executive director of Every Mother Counts; Vivian Pinn, former director (retired) of the Office of Research on Women’s Health and Marion McCartney, CNM, a pioneer nurse-midwife who founded the first freestanding birth center in the D.C. area.

Coverage of the event and the campaign is available from numerous media, including Washington Examiner and Agence France-Presse (love the headline: “‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ earmarked for US politicians”). Pearson also gave a great interview on FOX 5 in D.C.

We’re indebted to Malcolm M. Woods, who did a terrific job live-tweeting the event using the hashtag #OBOSCongress (tweets are still available if you want to check ‘em out), and without whom this whole event would not have been possible.

Campaign supporter and Every Mother Counts founder Christy Turlington ended up not being able to make the event, but she sent out this message in support:

Let’s Educate Congress! ”everyone deserves access 2!accurate women’s health info & sex-ed!” @oboshealth #OBOSCongress

Keep watching this blog and Twitter and Facebook for more campaign updates. We’ve already passed the 15 percent mark of our $25,000 goal to send books to all members of Congress. Huge thanks to all of our supporters!

Please consider pitching in today to help us meet our goal. We’re offering perks for donations of all sizes — but perhaps the greatest perk is knowing you, too, helped to educate Congress.

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

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.

October 19, 2012

Big Announcement! Our Bodies Ourselves Launches “Educate Congress” Campaign

Remember when Christine and The Ladydrawers took a road trip to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and other educational materials to the Missouri offices of Rep. Todd Akin and Sen. Claire McCaskill?

This time, with your help, we’re sending the book to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

We’ve launched Educate Congress, an initiative to raise $25,000 to provide members of Congress with accurate, evidence-based information about women’s bodies and reproductive health — and work to ensure that related legislation is based on this information. Nothing less than the future of our health care legislation is at stake.

For as little as $5, you can help us reach our goal and receive one of the great perks, such as a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” signed by Gloria Steinem or original art by The Ladydrawers, commemorating the Missouri Sex Ed Road Trip. There are buttons, stickers, tote bags and, of course, books. And all donors make the “I Educated Congress” honor roll!

This press release has more on the campaign. Plus we have more exciting news! A National Press Club Newsmaker event will be held on Monday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. Women’s health experts will discuss the campaign and the central importance of evidence-based reproductive health policy in women’s lives. Speakers include:

• Judy Norsigian, executive director and founder, Our Bodies Ourselves
• Christy Turlington Burns, global maternal health advocate and founder, Every Mother Counts
• Dr. Vivian Pinn, former director (retired), Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health

Representatives of leading women’s groups, such as Dr. Diana Zuckerman, president, National Research Center for Women & Families, and Cindy Pearson, executive director, National Women’s Health Network, will also be available to answer questions concerning public policy and what Congress can do to improve women’s health.

In the coming weeks, we’ll cover policies and legislation related to women’s health that are not based on the best available scientific evidence (such as the controversy over making contraception available as core preventive care available without a co-pay). And we’ll discuss policies Congress should support.

Please join us in educating Congress and share this campaign with your friends. We have our work cut out for us, but together we can make a difference!

October 5, 2012

Upcoming Webinars on the Intersection of Reproductive Justice with Environmental Justice, First Amendment

The National Women’s Law Center and Law Students for Reproductive Justice are co-hosting two upcoming webinars of interest. The October webinar is on the intersection of reproductive justice and environmental justice, while the November webinar addresses the intersection of reproductive justice and First Amendment rights.

You’ll need to register in advance for each session, though both are free. You do not have to be a law student, lawyer, or member of either organization to participate, although if you are affiliated with a law school your participation may benefit an LSRJ chapter. More info is available here. Details below:

If You Care About Environmental Justice, You Should Care About Reproductive Justice
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 6-7 p.m. Eastern
Speakers: Kelli Garcia (Senior Counsel, NWLC) and Kimberly Inez McGuire (Senior Policy Analyst, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health)
Registration link:

If You Care About the First Amendment, You Should Care About Reproductive Justice
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 6-7  p.m. Eastern
Speakers: Kelli Garcia (Senior Counsel, NWLC) and TBD
Registration link:

A previous webinar covered the intersection of criminal justice and reproductive justice, and is available for viewing. It will look like you’re registering for an upcoming webinar, but once you input your email, etc., you’ll be taken to a link to view the recorded webinar.

There is also a fact sheet on the issue, and a link to the “Mothers Behind Bars” report.

October 1, 2012

What Do You Think Congress Needs to Know About Sexual and Reproductive Health?

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican candidate in Missouri for U.S. Senate, made news again last week for his comments on the ladies — this time for asserting that his opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, acted “much more ladylike” during the 2006 campaign, and for suggesting that it’s fine for businesses to pay women less than men.

Well, then.

We do have Akin to thank, however, for sparking an upcoming Congressional Pop Quiz on gender, sex and reproductive health designed by The Ladydrawers. But first they need you to share what you think Congress needs to know about sexual and reproductive health. Here’s info from the call for participation:

The latest Truthout strip asks readers to submit questions for a Congressional Pop Quiz on the workings of your body. We’d like you—the cartoonists, the ladydrawers, the gender-aware media makers—to submit illustrated questions. You can use the questions from the Truthout comments section, generate queries among your own communities, or just straight-up ask Akin to identify the different between your vag and, say, a praying mantis. Which, actually, is pretty damn good at shutting “that whole thing down.”

We’d like questions on sex and reproductive health, of course, but questions about gender seem appropriate too. Marriage, partner benefits—it seems a little bit endless, what we must ensure Congress knows before further legislation is enacted. Anything. Be creative. Be funny. Be accurate. Use evidence-based resources, and cite them, so interested parties (R, D) can read more.

Most important: submit them to us here at or on our Tumblr by October 15. We’ll publish everything we receive here and on our Tumblr that fits the above guidelines (so include your website in your submission for proper credit), and choose the very best ones to print or publish in a quiz we’ll send directly to congress. (We might even have a way to pay you.) Line art only, please!

Can’t draw? Submit your text question on Truthout’s comment section, work with a friend who does like to draw, or do it anyway. You’re the expert: on your body, and on what you want to say about how it should be legislated.

The deadline is Oct. 15, so get going!

Having road tripped with The Ladydrawers in August to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and sex-ed books and comics to Akin’s office, I can pretty much guarantee that they’re the most awesome rabble rousers this side of the Mississippi (view more photos and drawings from that adventure).

The trip’s urgency was set off by Akin’s unfortunate comments about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy. Since we were in the neighborhood, we also stopped by McCaskill’s office and a training for sex-ed educators, dropping knowledge and spreading the word that everyone deserves access to accurate, evidence-based information on reproductive health. In fact, we’re about to launch a larger-scale delivery effort; more on that soon!