Lorraine Rothman

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Lorraine Rothman
Lorraine Rothman.jpg
Born Evelyn Lorraine Fleishman
(1932-01-12)January 12, 1932
San Francisco, California
Died September 25, 2007(2007-09-25) (aged 75)
Fullerton, California
Cause of death Bladder cancer
Alma mater California State University, Los Angeles

Lorraine Rothman (January 12, 1932[1] – September 25, 2007[2]) 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.

The outcome of the Roe V. Wade case made abortion legal across the nation, however the cost of abortion to be performed in a hospital would be tremendously expensive.[3] Along with the cost, the background process to get an abortion at this time was extremely sensitive. The process for the doctors was a certification that this pregnancy would be hurting the women, or in a more drastic case, rape. The process alone was already upsetting and having to get approval from a doctor simply elongated the process allowing for mixed emotions to formulate. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Roe v. Wade case allowed for there to be offices with certified clinics that were predominately women so that there was no judgment from other’s opinions, or in a more serious note, gender bias. Rothman was critically involved in both of these facilities.[4]

In an interview published in 2002, Rothman described her thought process: "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."[5]

She was born Evelyn 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.[6] At the FIRST Feminist Women's Health Center (FWHC) in Los Angeles, the main priority was for the importance of women awareness of their bodies and allowing for there to be a sense of security. Cervical and vaginal self-exams were demonstrated at the clinic so that women could perform these at home and not have to worry about going to a doctors office and needing mandatory approval otherwise.[7] On top of cervical and vaginal self-exams, the demonstration of the at home pregnancy tests was introduced. Rothman’s main priority was to allow for there to be sense of establishment within the patients as well as letting the patients know that there was 100% integrity within these programs. Along with the tests that were taught at the clinic, there was an outreach for a patient advocacy program. Through this patient advocacy program, patients could receive outpatient suction abortions.[citation needed]

Many women during this time were not only fighting for their equality but to have a voice, so these important advances served women greatly which is why Rothman was admired significantly, including the reason there are several memorials honoring her legacy.[8]

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.[9]

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.”[10] Rothman was mostly concerned about more females learning about their bodies; that way they would remain aware of every circumstance about themselves.[clarification needed] 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”.[11] 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.[12]

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”,.[13] 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,.[14] The article states that there are many more ways for women to have an orgasm.



  1. ^ "Evelyn Lorraine Fleishman in the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2016-07-01. (Subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Pearce, Jeremy. "Lorraine Rothman, Women’s Advocate, Dies at 75". https://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/us/09rothman.html.  External link in |website= (help);
  3. ^ "Roe v. Wade". www.plannedparenthoodaction.org. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  4. ^ "Roe v. Wade Facts: What You Need to Know about the Decision". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  5. ^ "Self-Help: A Revolution in Women's Health". Feminist Women's Health Center Newsletter. 2002. Retrieved 2016-07-01. 
  6. ^ "Women's Health in Women's Hand". http://www.womenshealthspecialists.org/about-us/lorraine-rothman.  External link in |website= (help);
  7. ^ Woo, Elaine (2007-10-03). "Lorraine Rothman, 75; feminist clinic's co-founder helped demystify gynecology". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  8. ^ Woo, Elaine (2007-10-03). "Lorraine Rothman, 75; feminist clinic's co-founder helped demystify gynecology". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  9. ^ "Lorraine Rothman 1932 - 2007." (n.d.). Veteran Feminists of America. Retrieved September 29, 2007.
  10. ^ Morgen, Sandra (2002). Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Up. 
  11. ^ Morgen, Sandra (2002). Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers Up. 
  12. ^ Morgen, Sandra (2002). Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers Up. 
  13. ^ Koedt, Anne. "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm". New England Free. 
  14. ^ Koedt, Anne. "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm". New England Free.