In 1971 a woman named Carol Downer used a speculum, a mirror and a flashlight, to look at her own cervix. She was the mother of six children and had never seen her own cervix. She saw where her babies had passed through, where her menstrual flow came from, and what the doctors had commented on over the years. It was a very enlightening moment for her. What she did with that knowledge was revolutionary. She was part of a woman's group, working to legalize abortion. She took her speculum to the next meeting and showed them her cervix. The group in turn took speculums to the California NOW conference and did "Self Help" for hundreds of women. Self Help groups became a place where women could see their cervixes, talk about their reproductive health care, and learn from each other's health experiences.
With help, training and inspiration from the Oakland Feminist Women's Health Center, nine women formed a self-help group that grew into the Chico Feminist Women's Health Center (CFWHC), a private, non-profit woman-controlled clinic. The clinic was opened with no government or foundation funding and few resources. Motivated by their need, desire and drive to bring women-controlled reproductive health care to their community, the Health Center was started in less than a year. The group of field workers, waitresses, mothers and students pooled their income to pay women in the group to start answering phones. We were laywomen, running clinics and providing the kind of health care we wanted to receive.
During the rise of feminist clinics, the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) was founded and became a feminist watch dog of the FDA. View a short documentary film that follows the activism and progress in women's health advocacy. The video covers the NWHN’s impact on the safety of birth control pills, research on menopause hormone replacement therapy, andthe new health care reform law.  Hear real stories of how the NWHN shook up Congress, Big Pharma, and complacent physicians by being the voice of women for change. Click here to view video…
×