Seaman, Barbara 1935-2008 (Barbara Ann Rosner)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Seaman, Barbara 1935-2008 (Barbara Ann Rosner)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born September 11, 1935, in Brooklyn, NY; died of lung cancer, February 27, 2008, in New York, NY. Health advocate, activist, educator, public speaker, columnist, journalist, and author. Seaman dedicated her career and writings to the health and welfare of women everywhere. She was one of the first critics of high-estrogen birth control pills and a longtime opponent of hormone replacement therapy using synthetic estrogen to relieve the discomforts of menopause. Seaman confronted the drug companies who refused to release data about the side effects of such drugs or failed even to conduct adequate tests to identify potential dangers. She challenged the medical professionals who seemed unable to trust women to make informed decisions about their own health care, and she became a frequent advocate and activist in the media spotlight. Seaman's 1969 book The Doctors' Case against the Pill generated enough public attention about the side effects of oral contraceptives, such as blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes, that it led to congressional hearings in 1970 and eventually to government-mandated warning labels and "informed-consent" patient-information sheets. It also led indirectly to the development of oral contraceptives containing substantially less estrogen than the originals. She did not stop there. In 1975 Seaman became a vice president of the Women's Medical Center in New York City, a cofounder of the Women's Health Lobby, and in 1975 she cofounded the National Women's Health Network, which became a center of the women's health movement in the United States. She became a tireless public speaker and university lecturer, a writer, a columnist for Brides, Ladies' Home Journal, and Hadassah, and a contributing editor of Ms., Omni, and Family Circle. Seaman won many awards for her humanitarian efforts, including the Pioneer Woman Award of the American Association of Retired Persons, the Athena Award of the National Council for Women's Health, and the Health Advocacy Award of the American Public Health Association; and she was also the subject of a women's rights movement postage stamp from the U.S. Postal Service. Seaman wrote several books, including Free and Female: The Sex Life of the Contemporary Woman (1972), For Women Only! Your Guide to Health Empowerment (1999), and The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth (2003); she edited The Practice and Politics of Women's Health (1999).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2008, sec. 4, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2008, p. B11.

New York Times, March 1, 2008, p. A15.