BOSTON–Judy Norsigian, a prominent women’s health scholar, visited Suffolk University on Oct. 30, 2008, to present a Lowell Lecture, “The Media and Women’s Health: Sorting Fact from Fiction,” exploring numerous women’s health topics from childbirth to cosmetic surgery. Norsigian has been an advocate for the education of factual information dealing with women’s health.
Norsigian graduated from Radcliffe College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970. In 1971, she wrote the book Our Bodies, Ourselves with a group of liberated women destined to raise the awareness of women’s health. The rise of this book led to the creation of Our Bodies Ourselves, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, advocacy and awareness of women’s well being.
Norsigian, current executive director of the organization, spends much of her time traveling throughout Massachusetts presenting the Lowell Lectures; an educational lecture series originating in 1886 for neighboring Lowell towns. Norsigian has dedicated her life to the teaching of healthcare and personal sexuality. She described how, over the years, the media has become a problem for the education of health issues. False media information has risen to such high levels that individuals are not getting the appropriate information needed to live a safe and healthy life.
During her visit to Suffolk University as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Norsigian covered topics such as prescription drugs, cosmetic surgery (particularly breast implants), and menopause.
She also focused on the issues with cesarean section childbirth, noting that “the media has completely distorted 90 percent of all information regarding childbirth.” Women are subjected to false information from the media concerning C-Sections and related health risks. In 2004, 29.1% of all births were cesarean sections and in 2007, that percentage rose to 31.2%. This has become a crisis because C-Sections are harmful to mothers, especially with repetition, yet the media has portrayed them as quick, safe, and harmless. The media, including doctors and practitioners, fail to inform women the ultimate risks with this type of childbirth. Norsigian has made it her goal to educate as many individuals as possible to prevent unnecessary C-Sections and save lives.
Norsigian believes the old issues that have been subdued in the media for years are still important to human health. Norsigian argues that there is no excuse for the non-publication of knowledge about a health issue; even if the topic isn’t currently popular.
“When we’ve got good evidence for something, particularly old evidence,” stated Norsigian, “we’ve got to cover it in the media once again.”
Norsigian promotes the repetition and frequent coverage of health protection as the best way to inform and encourage individuals to alter their lifestyles. Her work with the organization has proven to be a success. Our Bodies, Ourselves has been published in many different languages and cultures, affecting women all around the globe. Our Bodies Ourselves has published two additional books throughout the years: Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause (2006) and Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth (2008). Norsigian, along with Our Bodies Ourselves, will continue in striving to inspire and inform women of their personal health risks, rights, and responsibilities.