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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves to speak on women’s health at URI March 23

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 17, 2005 -- Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, will speak at the University of Rhode Island on Wednesday, March 23. Her talk, “The Media and Women’s Health: Sorting Fact from Fiction” will be delivered at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of White Hall, Kingston campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

Norsigian is a co-author of the landmark book Our Bodies, Ourselves, which helped launch the women’s health movement. She speaks and writes frequently on a wide range of women’s health concerns and has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, including “Oprah,” NBC’s “Today Show and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

She is a founding member of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, a non-profit, public interest women’s health education, advocacy, and consulting organization, which is now known as Our Bodies Ourselves.

“I’d like to emphasize the timeliness and importance of Judy Norsigian’s visit. Access to accurate information about women’s health is a critical issue these days, in part because the federal administration has removed information about teen-age sexual activity, condom use, and abortion from government websites,” says Karen Stein, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Women’s Studies Program.

Norsigian’s talk will mark the 25th anniversary of the Schweers lecture series, and is part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Studies Program at URI.

In the late 1960s, Norsigian was one of a dozen women sitting in a church basement in Watertown, Mass. The women gathered there to discuss how they had been treated by some medical practitioners ---hysterical and hypochondriac-- and to examine the ways women’s biology and health had been largely unexplored.

Recognizing that there was an astonishing lack of clear, specific information available to women about their own bodies, Norsigian and the others began collecting expert opinion, medical facts, and personal perspectives and sharing them with other women.

Their work ultimately resulted in the book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, which was published in 1970, and became an instant bestseller. The book, a medical reference and wellness guide that incorporates personal experiences with factual information, has sold more than 4 million copies and has been translated into 17 languages. Norsigian contributed to an updated version, Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century. It was published in the late ‘90s and provides new information and reflects the concerns of women of diverse ages, ethnic and racial backgrounds and sexual orientations. The newest edition of this “bible” of women’s health is expected to hit the bookstores this May.

Norsigian’s interests include reproductive health concerns, the media and women’s health, genetics, tobacco and women, women and health care reform, and midwifery advocacy.

She has served on the board of the National Women’s Health Network for 14 years. Other board commitments include membership in the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research, the Consortium for Industrial Collaboration in Contraceptive Research, and the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment. She is on the editorial/advisory boards of The Journal of Midwifery, Women and Health, and Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care.

URI’s Food and Nutrition Department and College of Nursing are co-sponsors of the event.