Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation

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HERS Hysterectomy Nationwide Protest, Washington D.C. March 18, 2005

The Hysterectomy Educational Resources & Services (HERS) Foundation is an independent non-profit international women’s health educational advocacy organization [1][2]. The stated mission of the organization is to give women a greater voice within the healthcare system by education and advocacy programs. HERS is financially supported by the thousands of individuals who use their services and specifically denies contributions from pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers. The HERS Foundation researches and testifies before federal agencies on such issues as drug and medical device reporting and informed consent for gynecological procedures and surgeries. HERS Newsletter provides health information on a variety of women’s health interests. They are dedicated to making information available and accessible to every individual, regardless of their ability to pay.

History[edit]

The HERS Foundation was established in 1982 by Nora W. Coffey and Helen E. Plotkin, as a group to provide information about the alternatives to hysterectomy and the effects of the surgery. It quickly broadened to address a wide variety of women’s health issues and became a clearinghouse for women’s health information and advocacy.

In 2004, HERS led the first ever nationwide protest against hospitals in every state for a week for a year. In 2007 HERS organized opposition to National Public Radio (NPR) for allowing the underwriting on their air waves of an advertisement for robotic hysterectomy which resulted in NPR withdrawing the ad.

HERS has counseled more than 875,000 individuals and provided information to millions more worldwide via broadcast, print and the World Wide Web. The organization’s website is multilingual, offered in English, French and German. [3]

Purpose and programs[edit]

The foundation’s purpose is to provide comprehensive information about treatment alternatives and the effects of hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and female castration (removal of the gonads, the ovaries). They help individual women world wide by providing one-on-one telephone counseling, physician referrals, litigation support, a free lending library of books, scripts, videos, and DVD’s, 6,000 annotated medical journal articles, woman-to-woman networking, newsletters, informational pamphlets in English and Spanish, lectures and annual regional conferences [4][5]. HERS is committed to the ideal that every woman has the right to the information required to make her own healthcare decisions. They encourage women to have candid discussions with their physicians about the effects of medical treatment and surgery. They raise public awareness of the large number of hysterectomies being performed without the information requisite for informed consent.

Ongoing projects[edit]

"HERS 2010 Hysterectomy Conference" U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney will be the Keynote Speaker at HERS Twenty-Eighth Hysterectomy Conference on April 24, in New York City. Maloney is well known and highly regarded for her advocacy for women’s rights. Indiana Representative Bruce Borders, the legislator who introduced a hysterectomy informed consent bill, will also speak at the conference. Borders will provide an insider’s perspective on the opposition and support he has received for Indiana House Bill 1366. In addition to meeting expert speakers and networking with other women and men seeking to become better educated about these issues, the conference is an opportunity to show politicians that hysterectomy informed consent legislation is of critical importance. http://hersfoundation.org/conference.html

"un becoming" In February 2005 HERS produced a play about the physical, political, economic, and social impact of hysterectomy. UN BECOMING by Rick Schweikert premiered Off Broadway at the 45th Street Theatre and it has been performed in 25 other cities. In 2005 a performance of UN BECOMING with the original Off-Broadway cast was filmed by Eric Marciano and American Montage [6]. Barbara Seaman, author of The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth, stated, “Every woman, man and child should see this play!”

Female Anatomy: Functions of the Female Organs is a short educational video produced by the HERS Foundation in 2007 [7]. It has been viewed over 1,200,000 times on websites including YouTube [8], Google, MSN, Yahoo and the HERS Foundation http://hersfoundation.org/.

Hysterectomy: The Experts Speak Out is a blog written by the HERS Foundation that gives the public access to the experiences of hysterectomized and castrated women told in their own unedited words. The blog provides an in-depth analysis of the patient education misinformation being given to women by doctors and hospitals and provides a platform for women to voice their experiences [9].

The H Word http://www.thehword.org/ written by Nora W. Coffey and Rick Schweikert, discusses the common reasons hysterectomy is recommended, the diagnostic studies that should be performed to obtain a diagnosis, alternatives in treatment and their risks, and strategies to help women cope with the lifelong aftereffects of removal of the uterus and ovaries. It revolutionizes our understanding of female anatomy and the important lifelong functions of the female organs. It reveals the solution to the complex problem of hysterectomy performed without the information that is necessary for informed consent. It takes an unflinching look at the environment of hysterectomy in America- information gynecology doesn't want you to know about 100 years of hysterectomy in America.

Selected coverage[edit]

External links[edit]