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Updated 11:00 AM November 1, 2004




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  Vivian Shaw Lecture Nov. 12
Speaker to emphasize importance of quality information
about women's health

Information is everywhere about topics related to women's health—prescription drugs, hormone therapy, breast implants, stem cell research and more. It's on the TV news, commercials, in newspapers and magazines, even on highway billboards.

But don't believe everything you read or hear, says Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS), a nonprofit, public interest women's health education, advocacy and consulting organization.

"The reporting quality of news stories varies, and much of what we see on television news comes from PR agencies," says Norsigian, who will give a lecture on campus next week. "People should know where their information is coming from."

Norsigian will give the 2004 Vivian Shaw Lecture, "Political Challenges for Evidence-based Medicine in Women's Health: New Alliance for a New Era," at 3 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union. The lecture is presented by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Women's Studies Program.

OBOS, also known as the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, has garnered a lot of attention during this election season due to its opposition to Proposition 71, a $3 billion bond measure in California to fund stem cell research.

Despite what Norsigian calls "misleading media representations" that cast OBOS and other pro-choice critics as "strange bedfellows" of conservative religious and fiscal opponents to Proposition 71, they are working separately from conservative interests and actually support most embryo stem cell research, unlike the Catholic Church and other groups.

OBOS's major concerns about Proposition 71 have to do with equity, inadequate research oversight, ineffective language to guarantee reasonable price controls over any therapies that might be developed, and what she calls problematic aspects of somatic cell nuclear transfer (also called research cloning).

"Some people have been surprised by our position, until they look at the details of our argument," she says.

OBOS began in 1970 with the publication of the first edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves," a landmark book about women's health.

The book—one of the first to address issues related to women's health candidly—will be released in its eighth edition in May 2005.

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