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Cindy Pearson

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Listening to Our Members

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…

NWHN members have always cared about health care coverage. Whenever we ask our members to tell us which policy issues they want the NWHN to address, they tell us that access to health care is their #1 priority.

What the heck is an estrogen-promotion article doing in the American Journal of Public Health?  That’s what I asked myself a few weeks ago when the “The Mortality Toll of Estrogen Avoidance” was published in the influential periodical produced by the American Public Health Association (APHA).1

I’m writing this just a few hours after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will no longer fight the court order that required the Federal government to remove age limits for purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) Emergency Contraception (EC). While there are still some important details to be worked out — including ensuring that lower-cost…

“Hope springs eternal.” I always wondered exactly what was meant by that old saying. Does it mean that hope is like spring — it always comes back? Or, maybe it reflects the positive impact we feel when we see the promise of the natural world flourish anew in springtime.

Ever hear that old joke?  One friend asks another “How was the continental breakfast at the hotel?” The friend replies, ‘It was awful. The coffee was cold, the pastry was stale, and the juice was sour. And there wasn’t enough of it!” Feminist health activists are a bit like the hotel customer who not only…

Shortly before the end of 2012, in one whirlwind 24-hour period, I got a chance to talk to both President Obama and to Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Both of these opportunities came during holiday parties: one at the White House and one in HHS’s D.C. headquarters.

Can you imagine swimming the English Channel?  I certainly can’t.  I used to enjoy running long-ish road races when I lived in Southern California, but there’s no comparison between jogging for 2-3 hours and swimming through open water for over 14 hours. But, in 1926, a young woman named Trudy Erdele had the courage to try what no woman had ever accomplished.

As I write this column, health care reform is under attack in Congress. Opponents of reform have seized upon one specific women’s health issue and are using it to try to undermine the entire effort. Sound familiar? It should. Almost exactly two years ago, health care reform opponents used a specific women’s health issue to try to stop the reform process altogether.

Menopause hormone therapy (HT) offers probably the biggest example in modern medicine where enthusiasm for a drug’s reputed benefit trumped existing supporting science. As we’ve said before, menopause hormone “replacement” therapy was a triumph of marketing over science. 

About the Author

Cindy Pearson

Cynthia A. Pearson (Cindy) has served as the NWHN’s Executive Director for more than 20 years. Cindy is one of the nation’s most experienced and respected women’s health advocates. During her tenure, Cindy has led campaigns to protect women from risky drugs and devices; require the government to research conditions that affect women; ensure that women have access to full information about medical products and clinical trials; expand women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care services; and protect women against coercion and abuse.

Cindy protects the independence of the NWHN’s voice on women’s health issues by cultivating a thriving national membership that enables the NWHN to remain one of the few women’s health organizations that will not accept financial support from pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies or the tobacco industry.

Cindy regularly testifies before Congress, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and is a frequent speaker at conferences. Cindy has appeared in print and on the air as a consumer expert on women’s health issues, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Nightline, Good Morning America, CNN, NPR, and the Melissa Harris-Perry show.

Cindy is a transplanted Californian, where she obtained her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego. She began her career at Womancare, a feminist clinic, and worked as an abortion rights organizer for Colorado NARAL. She continues to support independent abortion providers through her service as the President of the Board of Directors of Women’s Health Specialists in far northern California.