Lorraine Rothman

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Lorraine Rothman

Lorraine Rothman (1932 – September 25, 2007[1]) was a founding member of the feminist Self-Help Clinic movement. In 1971, she invented the Del-Em menstrual extraction kit to provide abortion to women before Roe v Wade. According to Lorraine, she thought, "What did women do before there were doctors? Let's stop the humiliation of trying to persuade the powers that be to legalize abortion. Let's just take back the technology, the tools, the skills and the information to perform early abortions and be in charge of our own reproduction." [2]

She was born Lorraine Fleishman in San Francisco, California in 1932. While working full-time, she attended Los Angeles City College and California State University Los Angeles, where she received a B.A. and teaching credential in 1954. After marrying in 1954, she moved to Baltimore with her husband, Al Rothman, and taught in the Baltimore City Public School System. She returned to California with her husband and children in 1964 and resumed public school teaching.

In 1968, Rothman first joined a local women's liberation group that met at California State University Fullerton, and then became a founding member of the Orange County chapter of NOW. Rothman's collaborative relationship with Carol Downer and the Self-Help Clinic movement began when she attended a meeting in 1971 organized by Downer to discuss women's reproductive rights and abortion. In the weeks before the meeting, Downer and a few other women had visited Harvey Karman's illegal abortion clinic on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles to learn how Karman performed abortions. Rothman volunteered to adapt Karman's manual vacuum aspiration equipment for home use. A week after her first meeting with Downer, she demonstrated the prototype of the Del-Em menstrual extraction kit for their group. In 1972, Downer and Rothman founded the first Feminist Women's Health Center (FWHC) in Los Angeles. Later on, she co-founded the second Feminist Women's Health Center (FWHC) in Santa Ana, California.[3]

Over the next two decades, Rothman traveled widely, taking the Self-Help Clinic concept to women's groups both in and outside the United States. In addition to working as an administrator, Rothman wrote health education guides for the FWHCs. In 1999, Rothman co-authored a book critical of hormone replacement therapy. Of HRT she has said, "Hormone Replacement Therapy is a misnomer: they are not hormones (they are drugs made synthetically in the laboratory), they are not replacing anything (our bodies continue to make enough hormones during and after menopause), and they are not therapeutic (menopause is not a disease)."

Lorraine Rothman died of bladder cancer on September 25, 2007, in Fullerton, California.[4]

According to the book titled “Into Our Own Hands”, “Lorraine Rothman developed a menstrual extraction kit that she called the Del-Em, which gave women unprecedented control over their monthly periods”,.[5] Lorraine seemed to be more understanding about the female gendered body and was mostly concerned about more females learning about their bodies, that way they would remain aware of every circumstance about themselves. According to the same source, “Due to the tour her and Downer went on, the uproar of women wanting to see their vagina’s was a lot more often than usual; therefore, they would grab mirrors and see for themselves”.[6] In light of Rothman’s opening of the “Los Angeles Feminist Women’s Health Center” women all over the world were intrigued by their bodies and self-worth.[7] Though many women of this time still struggled to fight for equality, Rothman and her colleagues helped progress the thriving era.

As in other famous articles, authors also coincide with Rothman’s life choice and stylistic values of gender when it comes to sex as well. A quote from Anne Koedt states, “Frigidity has generally been defined by men as the failure of women to have vaginal orgasms”,.[8] Due to the fact that many women are unaware of what is going on in their bodies, they tend to believe that the only way to have an orgasm, is through sex,.[9] The article states that there are many more ways for women to have an orgasm.



  1. ^ Pearce, Jeremy. "Lorraine Rothman, Women’s Advocate, Dies at 75". http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/us/09rothman.html. 
  2. ^ "Self-Help: A Revolution in Women's Health". Feminist Women's Health Center Newsletter. 2002. 
  3. ^ "Women's Health in Women's Hand". http://www.womenshealthspecialists.org/about-us/lorraine-rothman. 
  4. ^ "Lorraine Rothman 1932 - 2007." (n.d.). Veteran Feminists of America. Retrieved September 29, 2007.
  5. ^ Morgen, Sandra (2002). Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Up. 
  6. ^ Morgen, Sandra (2002). Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers Up. 
  7. ^ Morgen, Sandra (2002). Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers Up. 
  8. ^ Koedt, Anne. "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm". New England Free. 
  9. ^ Koedt, Anne. "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm". New England Free.