Women’s Self-Help

A presentation by Debra Law about women's "self-help" healthcare: learning to conduct self-examinations and facilitating discussion amongst women about cervical and vaginal health.

00:44Copy video clip URL Title card 

00:57Copy video clip URL Introduction by Debbie Law, from the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Oakland, who discusses the importance of self-help for women’s health. 

01:27Copy video clip URL The first part of the presentation, “Happiness Is Knowing Your Own Cervix.” With a series of slides, Law shows a plastic speculum and discusses why they’ve chosen to use it and how it’s used for self-exams. 

03:30Copy video clip URL Law asserts the importance of abortion as part of women’s health care. The function of the Feminist Women’s Health Center as an abortion referral service. 

04:12Copy video clip URL Women’s involvement in abortion reform and efforts to reform dangerous and traumatizing abortion procedures. Women making demands of hospitals as a group to change their practices and change the type of care that women received, in Los Angeles and in other parts of the country. Recognition of women’s power as a consumer group. 

06:10Copy video clip URL As a result of Roe v. Wade,  the Center’s opening of two abortion clinics that are woman-run and woman-controlled, in Los Angeles and in Oakland. 

07:00Copy video clip URL “The unwanted child & birth control”: The need for women to make their own decisions about their reproductive health and the number of children that they choose to have. 

09:00Copy video clip URL “Birth control handbook”: The need for women to share information about their health and their bodies with each other to combat common misconceptions. 

09:39Copy video clip URL A slide with anatomical demonstrations, comparing the ease of self-examinations for people with penises as compared to those with cervixes. The need for equipment like the speculum and basic health care instructions. 

11:39Copy video clip URL The women of a self-help clinic in Los Angeles. The sharing of information and experiences among the group.

14:55Copy video clip URL Carol Downer, who used a speculum to examine her own cervix and decided to share the experience and her knowledge with other women, founding self-help center. Discussion of Downer’s arrest for practicing medicine without a license and the ensuing controversy over treatment of a yeast infection.

20:13Copy video clip URL Equipment that is useful for involvement in the self-help clinic, including the plastic speculum, plastic gloves, mirrors, lights, KY gel, and copies of The Birth Control Handbook and a guidebook of laws in the state of California. 

21:17Copy video clip URL More examination of useful equipment .

23:18Copy video clip URL A slide demonstrating a speculum in use. Discussion of how to detect a yeast infection and cervicitis, and other conditions and indicators of cervical health or disease. 

27:45Copy video clip URL The final slide in the presentation, “Happiness is knowing your sister’s cervix.” 

28:27Copy video clip URL A discussion of IUD devices. 

30:35Copy video clip URL End of presentation. 

31:00Copy video clip URL Law demonstrates use of the speculum on herself while the rest of the group asks questions about her anatomy. 

36:02Copy video clip URL Another member of the group demonstrates the speculum, showing the group her anatomy post-hysterectomy. She discusses the difference between the feeling of putting the speculum in herself versus a doctor doing it, and of the nature of her menstrual cycle after a hysterectomy. 

41:12Copy video clip URL End of discussion. 



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