NWHN in Action – September/October 2014

By Goldie Heidi Gider, Director of Advancement

What’s at stake? This is the question we often hear about health care coverage, drug safety, and safe abortion care. The answer: women’s lives! Thanks to our members’ generous support, the Network works on all fronts — advocating, collaborating, and educating to advance women’s health. Here are some highlights of our work in the last few months:

Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

Outrage and disappointment characterized the mood at the Network in late June after the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 ruling that the religious beliefs of some bosses can override the health care needs of the women who work for them by denying them contraceptive coverage. Network staff and interns were in full force at the Court, along with thousands of others, who spoke out on behalf of women (see photo). Program staff immediately went to work in coalition with other activists to strategize our next steps; we will not give up! Read more about our work in Cindy’s column.

We welcome our newest Regional Coordinators: Kentucky Health Justice Network, Women with a Vision in Louisiana, and Mississippi in Action. We’re gathering stories from women whose insurers have imposed restrictions on contraceptive coverage, including covering only one type of intrauterine device or pill. Share your story at www.facebook.com/RWV4HealthCare.

In May, Deputy Director Amy Allina spoke at a briefing and panel discussion at the Kaiser Family Foundation, entitled “An Early Look at the Affordable Care Act and Women.” Watch the event or read the transcript at kff.org. Earlier this year, Cecilia Saenz Becerra made an advocacy presentation to the Tallahassee chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women about working for Medicaid expansion in Florida.

Keep up with the latest from RWV by visiting: www.raisingwomensvoices.net

Securing Sexual & Reproductive Health and Autonomy

Reproductive Justice Fellow, Lillian Hewko, spoke at CONVERGE! — a conference organized by the University of Miami School of Law. She spoke about gender violence on a reproductive justice panel that also included former NWHN etwork Board member Angela Hooton.

Challenging Dangerous Drugs & Devices

The Network spoke and the FDA listened! Earlier this year, the FDA rejected approval for flibanserin, a drug to treat female sexual dysfunction. We’ve long opposed this drug’s use because it is only minimally effective, has significant side effects, and hasn’t been evaluated for long-term use.

We also opposed FDA approval of expanded use of a human papilloma virus (HPV) test that would allow it to be marketed for use alone as a primary screening tool for cervical cancer in women 25 years and older. The FDA’s decision now allows the manufacturer to promote the test in ways that are not in line with evidence-based guidelines and may pose a threat to women’s health.  We wrote to the FDA about our concerns, and posted a blog for our supporters. Be sure to ask and make sure your health care provider isn’t using the test!  Read more about these issues at: See: https://nwhn.org/2014/04/25/ less-safe-and-more-expensive-fda-approves-new-use-hpv-test, and https://nwhn.org/blog.

In another victory, the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health announced funding for new research projects — and more than half are projects the Network recommended. These include research on osteoporosis, herbal weight loss products, metal-on-metal hip implants, sex-based differences in heart disease, and toxic shock syndrome. There’s more work to be done on women’s health research. And we’ll be here keeping at it, so look here for updates!

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Article originally published in the September/October 2014 Women’s Health Activist Newsletter