womenshealthinwomenshands.org is a project of Women’s Health Specialists
in Northern California. Carol Downer heads up the project.

WHWH director, Carol Downer
Carol co-founded the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Los Angeles in 1971. The FWHC pioneered the “self-help clinic”, a type of meeting in which women learned vaginal self-examination using a plastic speculum. They travelled around the country sharing the self-help clinic concept forming a loose network of on-going self-help groups. After Roe v. Wade, self-help women across the country started women-controlled abortion clinics and joined together in the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers. The Federation clinics influenced most abortion practitioners to abandon the old-fashioned “D&C” (dilation and curettage) procedure for the less traumatic vacuum aspiration method using smaller, flexible plastic instruments. They also fought TRAP laws (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers) that would have blocked the establishment of abortion clinics.

The Federation has produced slide shows and films, and has published several women’s health books, A New View of a Woman’s Body”, “How to Stay Out of the Gynecologist’s Office”, “Women-Centered Pregnancy and Birth” and “A Woman’s Book of Choices”.

Women’s Health Specialists, WHWH Sponsor
WHS has six sites in northern California, which provides an array of women’s health services, predominantly birth control and abortion and adoption since 1975. WHS was a co-founder of the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers in 1975.

WHS, originally the Chico Feminist Women’s Health Center, was formed by 8 women in Chico. The immediately successful health center quickly gained acceptance in the rural community where the California State University at Chico is located, however they fought a legal battle against local physicians to force them to provide back-up for their clients who may experience complications requiring hospital facilities. Later, the staff successfully defended itself against charges of fraud from the Republican administration of Deukmajian. Some of the later attacks are well-publicized, like the ongoing raucous, hate-spewing protests from anti-abortionists and violent attacks like stink bombs and arson which destroyed the Redding WHS twice. Others, like repeated ill-founded investigations by the State Department of Health and Welfare attract less notice from the media, but require vigorous, lengthy and expensive defense efforts by the staff, its legal counsel, its board and its supporters. Throughout this tumultuous history of attack and victory, the Chico FWHC has expanded to become the Northern California WHS with 6 sites and enjoys the respect of pro-choice legislators, law enforcement agencies, other providers of women’s health services, and women in the community.

Many other women-controlled clinics, including most of the FWHC’s, closed during the 80’s. Today, Feminist Women’s Health Centers are located in Washington State, California and Georgia. There are 13 women-controlled clinics in the Feminist Abortion Network, FAN.

This website is designed to provide women with the information to control her own body, to counter centuries of systematic attack by patriarchal institutions against women’s freedom to enjoy their sexuality and to control their reproduction. When women share our sexual and reproductive experiences frankly and openly in a supportive environment, we cast off the invisible shackles caused by shame and ignorance, and are empowered to remake the world according to feminist values, such as equality between all people, social justice, and promoting a society that creates a healthy environment and nurtures our children.

A Gentle Revolution
WHWH believes that it is a revolutionary act for a woman to learn to use a speculum, a mirror and a light to look at her own cervix, and to share this knowledge with other women. “Women’s Health in Women’s Hands” means educating ourselves about our bodies and our healthy functioning, and helping each other, so that we are empowered consumers. WHWH also means establishing women’s clinics to provide abortions and birth control or birth centers; it means using self-help principles to become midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants to rebuild the knowledge and lore of natural childbirth.

womenshealthinwomenshands.org has a Pro-Woman Agenda which comes from the perspective that in order for a woman to control her sexuality and reproduction, she must enjoy the full spectrum of her sexual and reproductive rights. womenshealthinwomenshands.org opposes all state restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, whether it be laws prohibiting or forcing abortion or those prohibiting pregnant women choosing work or lifestyles that might pose risks to her fetus, or laws limiting women’s options in the birthing process.

Women's Health in
omen's Hands
Remaking the World with a
Feminist Vision

Click on Image to go to Women's Health Specialists Webpage
Chico FWHC

Taking Back Our Lives
Seated Woman w/Visible Uterus
Woman Pumping Her Own ME
2451 Ridgeview Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90041 (323) 960-5026 Fax (323) 960-5026 whwh@womenshealthinwomenshands.org

Order How To Stay Out Of The Gynecologist's Office by The Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers
A New View of a Woman's Body
Order The Clitoral Truth Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, RU-486 by Rebecca Chalker
Click on Image to Contact Us
Staff of WHS Redding, CA
Through the Speculum
Self-Help in Groups
5 Weeks 2 Days
A New View of a Woman's Body
The Clitoral
The self-help branch of the women's health movement started in 1971 in Los Angeles, California.
Click on Image to go to Women's Health Specialists "Abortion Speak Out Campaign" page
A woman in Northern California looked at her cervix with a speculum, hand mirror and a digital camera!  She has posted a beautiful collection of her and other women's cervixes on the My Beautiful Cervix Project web site.  Click on photo to see. 
Women's sexuality has been repressed by law and custom.  It is our human right to experience joy from physical pleasure and intimacy.  Knowing about our bodies' healthy functioning helps us to attain our rights. Drawing by Suzann Gage. 

Woman-Centered Pregnancy and Birth
The Chico Feminist Women's Health Specialists in California was started by 9 women in 1975. Today, now the Women's Health Specialists, despite anti-abortion violence, state harassment, opposition from local anti-abortion doctors, it's grown to 4 clinics in Northern California. The WHS travels internationally to spread self-help.  Click on photo of FWHC for more.
Eight staff members of Women's Health Specialists in Redding California sends their greetings to you to say, "Happiness is Knowing Your Own Cervix!"
Our Reproduction & Sexuality
We show how to do vaginal self-examination by yourself or with others.  This woman is seeing her cervix for the first time with friends.
We are BREAKING THE TABOO of looking at our and each other's genitals, respecting OUR gender and body diversity and honoring each woman's experiences.

We now have a COMPLETELY NEW BODY OF KNOWLEDGE about our healthy body's functions and CELEBRATE our right to sexual pleasure. 

We 1) INVENTED menstrual extraction, 2) REDEFINED the clitoris, 3) INFLUENCED non-traumatic, respectful abortion care in the United States, and 4) HUMANIZED adoption practices. 

We continue to EXPOSE and OPPOSE 1) dangerous drugs and devices for birth control or HPV prevention and hormone replacement "therapy" 2) myths of menopause, and 3) brutal obstetrical practices.  We EDUCATE about the motives and practices of population control forces; we daily FACE DOWN the anti-abortion forces.
The woman receiving the Menstrual Extraction" controls the procedure.  She inserts her speculum, then after another member of the group inserts the sterile cannula and crimps or pinches the tubing between the collection jar and the cannula, she pumps the syringe to build up a vacuum.  The other members attend her, listening for her reactions and instructions. Click on "Our Periods" to learn about why and how women sometimes extract their menstrual periods.

Thinking Gender Conferance Report

Report of Thinking Gender Program UCLA Center for the Study of Women Grand Horizon Ballroom, UCLA Covel Commons April 7 and 8, 2016

Dear Friends:

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