I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I do; it includes a selection of interesting articles and commentary on cutting-edge issues. A couple of articles, “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game: Drug Pricing in America” and “Abortion Disconnect” directly address high-profile issues that are in the news on a daily basis.
Our feature article about high drug prices is written by our allies at AARP. It makes the case that high prescription drug prices are more than just a symptom of the United States’ extreme free market approach to health care (why don’t we let Medicare bargain for volume discounts, for goodness sakes?!). We believe that outrageously high prices for these life-saving drugs are immoral. And, like the AARP, dozens of other health organizations, and a few brave policymakers, the NWHN believes it is time to do something about outrageously high drug prices. Reform that reins in the power of pharmaceutical companies to charge whatever the market will bear will be extremely difficult. But we’re up for the challenge!
“Abortion Disconnect” also touches on a very high-profile issue — abortion. Laura Kaplan talks about experiencing the hypocrisy of vocal opponents of reproductive rights who choose abortions when they need it themselves, then return to their anti-abortion activities. Reflecting on the hypocrisy of those who publicly say that abortion is wrong, but behave differently in private made me think about the hypocrisy of state legislators who champion laws targeting abortion clinics. They claim that these laws (known as “TRAP” laws) are designed to protect women’s health by requiring abortion clinics to have a certain number of parking spaces, or hallways wide enough that two gurneys can pass one another. The legislators know the overwhelming evidence that abortion is extremely safe as it is currently provided. In passing these restrictive regulations, the legislators are motivated by their desire to make abortion more difficult to obtain. Their ultimate goal is to make abortion inaccessible, if not completely illegal. Pretending otherwise is hypocritical. Watch for this issue to be in the headlines even more often as the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of a Texas law that has forced more than 20 clinics to close in that state.
This issue also includes articles on topics that are less often covered in the news. They include articles presenting the NWHN’s perspective on contraceptive safety (“Essure & Challenges in Contraceptive Choice”), and eating disorders (“Fitting into Jeans, or Fitting into Society?”)
All of these articles relate directly to NWHN’s goals. We work simultaneously on promoting sexual and reproductive health, expanding access to affordable care, ensuring consumer safety, and addressing the social determinants of health. We have many great colleague organizations that work on drug and device safety, or reproductive justice, or transforming the health care system; the NWHN is one of the few national organizations that combines work on these three issues.
For example, longtime WHA readers know that — in addition to advocating for lower-cost drugs — the NWHN also points out that, sometimes, individual women need fewer drugs. We advocate for more contraceptive choices, and sometimes, we advocate for the Food and Drug Administration to take an overly dangerous contraceptive off the market.
We support policies to help people make good choices about the food they buy when faced with clever marketing of high-calorie foods. At the same time, we know that the simplistic public health message that being overweight is bad, and “treatments” to reduce weight will improve health aren’t always backed up by science. So, we round out our support for public policies to help people stay fit by supporting the Health at Every Size advocacy efforts (see http://haescommunity.com).
Our day-to-day work reflects this combination of concern about access, affordability, justice, and consumer safety — all built upon our bedrock values of respect for, and responsiveness to, women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. This unique perspective on women’s health issues flows directly from the NWHN’s long-term goals, and informs the work we do every day. Whether it’s an issue that captures the media spotlight and legislators’ attention, a governmental agency’s consideration of drug and device regulation, or a woman’s need for personal information and support so she can make the best decision for her unique circumstances — the NWHN is there, analyzing critical health issues in order to affect policy and support consumers’ decision-making abilities.
Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress, NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.