As 2020, a difficult year for so many, comes to a close, Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) continues to do our part as a largely volunteer-driven organization.
Here is a sampling of activities and activism from the past year:
- OBOS is currently engaged in some exciting conversations about a potential feature length documentary about “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and its enduring impact both in the U.S. and globally. The filmmakers already have secured substantial funding and envision a film that would focus on three primary elements: the history and origins of the book; the ways in which our global partners have translated and adapted the book to reflect the needs and concerns of women in their own countries; and an exploration of the book’s continuing relevance for young people. Stay tuned….
- OBOS continues to advocate for best practices in the arena of commercial surrogacy. OBOS board member Diana Namumbejja continues as an advisor to the Surrogacy360 project, now administered by our good colleagues at the Center for Genetics and Society. We are generating interest on the part of younger women to help disseminate more accurate information about the risks of egg provision, as there is a persistent problem with lack of informed consent for the many young women who undergo multiple egg extraction procedures for gestational surrogacy arrangements.
- OBOS continues to advocate for greater access to midwifery care in ALL settings. As part of the Bay State Birth Coalition, we are still working to secure regulation and licensure for Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in Massachusetts. This will enable Medicaid to cover CPM fees for low income women who could not otherwise access such midwifery care.
- Board member Mariya Patwa, currently a medical student at Tufts School of Medicine, has been the organizational liaison to the Every Voice Coalition, a Massachusetts group dedicated to combatting campus-based sexual violence.
- OBOS continues to collaborate with the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University on Our Bodies Ourselves Today, a new online resource on health, reproduction, and sexuality. The project recently secured substantial funding to ensure its sustainability over the coming years. They will be hiring an administrator and moving forward soon with creating new content.
- The terrific team of students, faculty, and community activists/educators from San Paolo and Rio de Janeiro will soon be completing their Portuguese translation/adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for women living in Brazil. (Check out this blog post about their experiences.) Raquel Pereira, who is part of the lead community organization Coletivo Feminista Sexualidade e Saúde, continues to coordinate this effort from her current base in Boston. Co-founders Norma Swenson and Judy Norsigian are her primary OBOS liaisons for this project.
- Each month, several hundred thousand people visit the OBOS website. The most popular content sought out by users is related to abortion, menstruation, perimenopause, miscarriage, and pain during sex. Web manager Kiki Zeldes updates website pages, often with help from volunteers. Check out these newly updated articles: A Brief History of Birth Control in the U.S., and The History of Abortion Law in the United States.
- Presentations over the past year have been largely via Zoom and taped interviews. For example, OBOS co-founder Joan Ditzion was featured recently on the BBC “Witness History” podcast.
OBOS continues to collaborate with other groups, to support women’s organizations producing translations and adaptations of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” and to support emerging networks and activists similarly committed to women’s health and human rights. Please consider supporting our ongoing work by donating to Our Bodies Ourselves!
Judy Norsigian is the chair of the Our Bodies Ourselves board of directors.