Posts Tagged ‘Educate Congress’

May 20, 2013

“Educate Congress” Accomplished: Every Member Now Has a Copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

Our Bodies, Ourselves Goes to Washington

Every member of Congress has pages of accurate information on women’s health at their fingertips – more than 900 pages to be exact – now that they have the latest edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

Thanks to supporters of OBOS’s Educate Congress campaign – inspired by a road trip to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to then-Rep. Todd Akin – we hand-delivered or mailed the newest edition and a letter signed by prominent health policy experts to all members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Educate Congress launched with a simple premise: Everyone deserves access to accurate information concerning women’s reproductive and sexual health – especially those who write the laws.

Deliveries began Feb. 28, when I spent the day meeting with members on Capitol Hill. It was the day that the House finally passed the Violence Against Women Act, which made the trip particularly poignant.

Joining me were Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts (EMC), and Erin Thornton, EMC executive director. We collaborated on scheduling and delivered EMC materials along with “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” including a special petition for women members of Congress congratulating them on their leadership role and asking them to affirm support of policies that protect the health and well-being of girls and women around the world, especially those that will reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.

Two National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) interns, Alysson Reddy and Grace Adofoli, provided invaluable logistics support and shoulder-bag transport of the rather hefty copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” We received warm receptions not only from those who know the book and OBOS’s work, but also from members who want to be better prepared to address key reproductive health concerns.

Our first meeting was with Rep. Jim McGovern (MA), a consistent advocate of evidence-based policies. Christy and Erin presented a copy of EMC’s excellent documentary about maternal mortality, “No Woman, No Cry.”

Alysson and Grace helped me walk the corridors of three House office buildings in record time, with stops in the offices of Representatives Adam Kinzinger (IL), Steven Horsford (NV), Gary Peters (MI), Kay Granger (TX), Betty McCollum (MN), Chellie Pingree (ME), Michael Capuano (MA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), James Clyburn (SC), Jackie Speier (CA), Nita Lowey (NY), Anne Kirkpatrick (AZ), Joseph Kennedy (MA), and Cheri Bustos (IL).

The day ended on the Senate side, with visits to Senators Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Elizabeth Warren (MA). Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families (NRCWF), joined me in discussing women’s health with Sen. Warren and her chief of staff, Mindy Myers.

Time was running short, so Allyson and Grace returned later that week to deliver books and letters to Senators Mitch McConnell (KY), Rob Portman (OH), Carl Levin (MI), Mark Begich (AK) Charles Grassley (IA), Pat Toomey (PA), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Christopher Coons (DE).

OBOS has already received personal thank-you notes from several members of Congress who indicated that the book will be a useful resource. We’re confident it will be of value to staff members working on policy issues.

If you visit the D.C. office of your representative or senator in the coming months, let us know if you get a chance to ask about how “Our Bodies, Ourselves” might have been referenced. Establishing sound, science-based policy about reproductive health is no easy feat, but it will be all the more likely if each of us finds ways to promote this goal.

OBOS will continue to monitor where information interventions are needed. Please help fund our efforts to send books to state legislators, educational leaders, and other public officials.

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Photo, clockwise: EMC’s Erin Thornton and Christy Turlington Burns, Rep. Gary Peters, OBOS’s Judy Norsigian, and NWNH interns Alysson Reddy and Grace Adofoli; Judy and Christy with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Judy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and NRCWF’s Diana Zuckerman; Rep. Chellie Pingree; Judy and Christy with Rep. Jim McGovern (center). 

February 28, 2013

Delivery of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to Members of Congress Launches on Capitol Hill

Erin Thornton, Judy Norsigian, Rep. Jim McGovern, and Christy Turlington Burns

Last fall, following a sex-ed road trip with The Ladydrawers to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to former Rep. Todd Akin (of “legitimate rape” fame), Our Bodies Ourselves launched Educate Congress, a campaign to deliver the book to all members of Congress and key administration officials.

The basic premise: Everyone deserves access to accurate information concerning women’s reproductive and sexual health — especially those who write the laws.

Today OBOS kicked off delivery of the book, as Judy Norsigian, OBOS executive director and one of the original authors of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” hand-delivered copies of the newest edition to about 20 legislators and staff members.

The point was made that the problem isn’t just poorly chosen words; rather, a lot more needs to be done to advance evidence-based health policy.

Norsigian walked the halls of Capitol Hill with Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, and EMC’s executive director, Erin Thornton. They submitted EMC’s petition to female members of Congress, asking them to support policies that protect the health and well-being of girls and women around the world, especially those that will reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.

Doing this on the day that the House finally passed the Violence Against Women Act made it particularly poignant.

NWHN interns Allyson Reddy and Grace Adofoli with Judy Norsigian and Rep. Chellie Pingree

Thanks to Allyson Reddy and Grace Adofoli, interns at the National Women’s Health Project, the book launch was a success. More books will be delivered in the coming weeks, until every member of Congress has, in their office, up-to-date information they can rely on when drafting bills that have a real impact on girls and women.

A big thank you to the supporters of Educate Congress! And a special shout out to fellow road-trippers Anne Elizabeth Moore, Rachel N. Swanson, Nicole Boyett and Sara Drake; Congress scheduler Christina Knowles; everyone who participated in the making of the Educate Congress video, especially Paul Noble and Anthony Cupaiuolo (bro!); and Malcolm Woods, who helped organize the Educate Congress launch at the National Press Club and kept the word going on Twitter (with the aid of “The West Wing” staff). All of you made this happen!

Erin Thornton, Christy Turlington Burns (holding the film “No Woman, No Cry”) Rep. Gary Peters, Judy Norsigian, Allyson Reddy, and Grace Adofoli

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 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 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!

August 24, 2012

#akinroadtrip Report – More Discussion of the GOP Abortion Problem

While we’ve been busily tweeting away with reports on the #akinroadtrip to deliver the most recent “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to Rep. Todd Akin, the story has kept up steam in the media. Here’s some coverage of the overall issue and big picture problem of the GOP’s abortion platform that we liked:

And much-appreciated coverage of the road trip:

August 23, 2012

Road Trip: Delivering “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and Sex Education Books to Rep. Todd Akin

Why mail the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” when you can deliver it in person? Yes, a Chicago-to-Missouri road trip to Rep. Todd Akin’s office begins this afternoon to deliver copies of the newly revised and updated 40th anniversary edition of the landmark book.**

Seriously, who needs accurate women’s health information more than a member of Congress who thinks women can magically ward off pregnancies if their rape was “legitimate”? (So, what amazing feats have you accomplished with your uterus today?)

I’m traveling with the always awesome Anne Elizabeth Moore and a crew of Ladydrawers – Sara Drake, Rachel N. Swanson and Nicole Boyett - who are packing art supplies and snacks, making us pretty much invincible.

Our journey to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to Akin’s office will kick off at Women & Children First in Chicago, where we’ll scoop up their four remaining copies of the book and combine it with other educational reading material. Then we’ll hit the highway, 55 South to be precise. Wave when we go by!

Our plan is to deliver the books in person Friday morning at Akin’s St. Louis office. Stay tuned for updates from the road, and if you’re not already following us on Facebook or Twitter, start now.

In the meantime, how can you show your support for an educated Congress that believes rape is rape, period, and all women deserve access to basic reproductive health services? Visit and join us!

**Hat tip to St. Louis Post-Dispatch Book Editor Jane Henderson, whose writing inspired this road trip.