Tackling the Tough Issues

Article taken from November/December Newsletter 2013

The Network never shies away from tough issues – whether it’s challenging the dangerous over-promotion of menopause hormone therapy to healthy women, or calling for universal health care. This issue of the newsletter includes articles on several issues we’re working on right now – and some of them are definitely tough.

At the heart of the Network’s work is our commitment to speaking up for women, and ensuring that medical research and health care providers take gender into account. Take heart disease, for example. Twenty years after Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) chastised a group of researchers for conducting an all-male study on heart disease (their excuse was that there weren’t any “ladies” restrooms on their floor of the medical center), some physicians still don’t think about heart disease when thinking about the needs of their female patients. In Heart Screenings for Women Should be as Routine as Pap Tests, Susan Gurley and Beth Tomasello explain how you can take charge of your heart health – and give you both practical questions to ask your clinician and steps you can take to prevent heart disease.

When the Network speaks up for women, we speak up for all women. We advocate for policies that meet the needs of diverse women, including women who are young, or poor, or newcomers to this country. We believe that no woman should be denied the health care she needs – and we’re actively campaigning to correct injustices that restrict access to care. In Lift the Bans for All of Us, Amy Allina introduces a new campaign designed to build public support for private and public funding of abortion care. We’re proud to be part of this effort. We’re also proud to be part of the campaign to allow immigrant women better access to health care. In her article, Candace Gibson explains how restrictions on access to care harm immigrant women and describes the I’m Fighting #4immigrantwomen campaign. We invite you to join the Network and the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights in this important effort.

Concurrent to our advocacy efforts to create new policies that enhance women’s health, we also advocate for safe and effective treatments, and we challenge dangerous drugs and devices. Rachel Walden examines spread of digital mammography in “Digital Mammography: Is Newer Always Better?”, and concludes that the likelihood of a false positive result and subsequent follow-up tests mean that this technology shouldn’t be used routinely.

How do we manage to do all this?  We simultaneously speak up for women, challenge bad policies, advocate for those who are left out, and act as a watchdog. The Network’s effectiveness starts with you – our members. Your annual dues and special contributions provide us with no-strings-attached support. That’s essential to our success. The Network’s power also flows from the organization’s Board of Directors, a group of 14 individuals who volunteer their time to provide oversight and strategic guidance. Any current member is eligible to run for election and we invite you to consider serving on the Network’s Board. If you’re interested, and I hope some of you are, there’s information how to nominate yourself on page 10. The Network is your organization – thank you for helping us do this great work.