Newsletter The Women’s Health Activist® is a bimonthly publication of the National Women’s Health Network. We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Yvonne Crasso
By Dara D. Mendez: Chair, Board of Directors
I will have the wonderful opportunity to write directly to you, our supporters, for this and the next issue of the Women’s Health Activist while our Executive Director, Cindy Pearson, is away on sabbatical. As Chair of the NWHN’s Board of Directors, I have been fortunate to work with a diverse group of women from all over the United States who are committed to serving the NWHN and fulfilling its mission of improving the health of all women. These women serve on the NWHN Board, and also advocate for women’s health in their other roles as educators, lawyers, writers, scientists, activists and much more.
By Consumer Reports Health
Although the U.S. health care system outspends the rest of the world, infants and mothers fare worse in this country than in many other industrialized nations. For example, infant mortality rates in Japan are more than 60 percent lower than the U.S., and we rank behind 41 other countries in preventing maternal mortality during childbirth.
It is time for the Network’s bi-annual Board Elections! The Network is governed by a group of 14 individuals, our Board of Directors, which sets policies for the organization. Board members are elected by the membership for a four-year term; two of our candidates are incumbents. (You can read more about our current Board of Directors on our web site: http://nwhn.org/board-directors.)
By Rachel Ruderman
For some people, life progresses in a series of ebbs and flows, valleys and peaks. Others, like me, see life in terms of one sharp divide, one defining moment that separates then from now. My moment came the night before the start of my senior year of high school, when I was awakened by my phone ringing. I answered. “Rach?” my friend spoke quietly, “Jenny’s dead.”
By Rachel Walden
If you’ve read recent media coverage about NuvaRing, you could be excused for thinking that that the contraceptive ring is deadly and should be yanked off the market immediately. But hold on.
Women made up 54 percent of people enrolling in health insurance plans through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces by the end of 2013. That's a total of more than 1.1 million women with new health insurance plans, nationwide. We are proud of this success, which we helped foster through the Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need campaign that is engaging women to find out more about expanded access to affordable health insurance!
By Kate Ryan
When cars, baby cribs, or even microwaves are recalled because there’s a safety problem or the product doesn’t work, you can check the unique serial number on your car, crib, or microwave to immediately discover if the one you own has been recalled, or if there’s no need for you to worry. Having systems that facilitate the quick and accurate identification of unsafe and ineffective devices is just common sense — so most people would be surprised to learn that, until six months ago, the system for tracking problems with medical devices was so ineffective that many people never even found out about recalls of defective products — which has the potential to put their health at risk.1
The Female Health Company (FHC) announces its 2014 FC2 College Health Mini-Grant Program, which supports on-campus organizations that provide health education and outreach to college students. The mini-grant program is designed to help colleges enhance, improve, and/or create FC2 programming on their campus. The application for funding in the 2014-2015 academic school year is now available and is open to all U.S. colleges and universities. Applications are due March 1, 2014. Find out more about the grants at http://www.fc2femalecondom.com/training/community/fc2-college-health.
By Cindy Pearson
At the Network, we listen to our members in many ways. We listen to you via elections — there’s a reminder in this newsletter issue to make sure your membership is up-to-date so you’ll be eligible to vote in the election this Spring. We listen to you via the Women’s Health Voice, our free health information service. And we listen to you when we develop our advocacy campaigns. We also try to respond to meet members’ requests for information on our website and in our newsletter. In fact, this issue of the newsletter is full of articles and information that were developed in response to member’s requests.
Thanks to our members’ generous support, the NWHN is able to work on all fronts — advocating, collaborating, and educating in order to advance women's health. Here are some highlights of our work in the last few months:
By Lillian Hewko, J.D.
The time has finally come: health insurance marketplaces are now open for enrollment for people in every state! The NWHN fought long and hard to make sure women’s voices are heard and women’s concerns were addressed in health care reform efforts. Along with our excitement about Obamacare’s implementation, however, come some challenges. We are turning our attention to making sure women know about, and can take advantage of, health care reform’s benefits.
By Adriane Fugh-Berman and Charlea Masssion
New guidelines released in November 2013 by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) advised preventing heart attacks by treating cardiovascular risk factors instead of high cholesterol. Seemed like a good idea at first. It turns out, though, that the new guidelines will double the number of people eligible for statins — just one more way for pharmaceutical companies to expand the market to more people who don’t need drugs.
On Monday, November 18th, Network members gathered at Elizabeth’s on L in Washington, DC for the 6th Annual Barbara Seaman Awards for Activism in Women’s Health. This year’s event honored two women who have tirelessly and unabashedly advocated on behalf of women everywhere.
By Colleen Joy McCullough
In May 2013, Angelina Jolie shocked the public with her New York Times op-ed disclosing her decision to have a preventive double-mastectomy. She made the choice after receiving genetic test results that indicated she carries a mutation on her BRCA1 gene that significantly increases the risk of some types of breast or ovarian cancer.1 Her candor about this important medical decision sparked a flurry of interest from the media, health care professionals, and — perhaps most importantly — other women.
A new study supports the use of cranberry products as an alternative way to prevent reoccurring urinary tract infections (rUTI). Antibiotics are often used to treat rUTIs but, while effective, this can lead to adverse effects and future drug resistance. Cranberry juice and tablets, on the other hand, help prevent UTIs (by stopping bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract), and do not have adverse effects or increase drug resistance. To determine if cranberry products are a reasonable alternative for preventing rUTIs, researchers reviewed data from 1,616 subjects (including women and children) in 5 different trials. They found that cranberry products are effective in preventing rUTIs — especially for women and children. While more research is needed to determine the mechanism, dose, and usefulness of the treatment, researchers suggest that drinking cranberry juice, or taking tablets at least twice a day may help women avoid rUTIs.
Evidence-Based Medicine, June 2013
In November, the U.S. Supreme Court helped strike down the harmful anti-choice “Oklahoma Ultrasound Act,” which forced a woman to have an ultrasound and be shown the images before she could have a medical abortion. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means that a lower court ruling overturning the law will stand, and THAT means that Oklahoma women can still access medical abortion care without being subjected to unnecessary procedures mandated by politicians. This is a small victory at a time when a record number of anti-choice measures are being introduced and passed by state legislatures.
By Amy Allina
The National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) was founded in 1975, at a time when many women’s health activists felt encouraged by the changes they saw in reproductive health care. The organization’s early years coincided with the start of the modern era of legal abortion in the United States. Following the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, women in many states gained access to safe and legal abortion care for the first time. Today, when state restrictions on abortion care are proliferating and reducing women’s access to abortion services, it’s easy to be nostalgic about those years.