Educate Congress Initiative Aims to Provide Accurate Information on Women's Health

Donors Raising Money to Send “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to Every Member of Congress

BOSTON, Oct. 19, 2012 — Our Bodies Ourselves today is launching Educate Congress, an initiative to provide members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate with accurate, evidence-based information about women’s bodies and reproductive health.

The women’s health organization intends to deliver copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (Simon & Schuster, 2011) to each representative and senator.

On Monday, Oct. 22, 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, 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.

“Congress frequently addresses difficult issues that affect women’s health,” said Norsigian. “By delivering books to all federal lawmakers, we hope to ensure that legislation involving women’s bodies and reproductive health takes account of the best available scientific evidence.”

The original “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” first published in 1971, is one of 88 books included in the 2012 Library of Congress exhibit “Books That Shaped America.” This newly revised and updated edition, the result of two years of research and careful review by medical experts and readers, was selected by Library Journal as one of the best consumer health books of 2011.

The book focuses on reproductive health and sexuality, including such topics as pregnancy, childbirth, gender identity, sexual orientation, birth control, abortion, sexual health as women age, menopause, breast and ovarian cancers, and the effects of environmental toxins on women’s health and fetal development.

Educate Congress includes a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign. Donors can select a specific member of Congress to receive the book and add their signatures to a letter that will accompany delivery of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

The initiative began on an August road trip to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and a collection of related educational materials to the Missouri offices of Rep. Todd Akin and Sen. Claire McCaskill, following Akin’s well-publicized comments about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy.

“An accurate understanding of sex and reproduction, and of how they are linked to women’s overall health, is essential for policy makers, as well as the public,” said Norsigian.