Myrna Blyth, a former editor of Ladies Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine, as well as the author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America, is now a contributor for National Review Online. Her piece this week focused on an old friend of hers, very recently deceased.
Barbara Seaman died the same day as William F. Buckley, Jr. Ms. Seaman didn't receive the same attention from the press though. In the world of women's health care, she was every bit as renown.
Seaman's first book was very controversial, The Doctor's Case Against the Pill, which described the dangers of blood clots associated with the birth control pill, not being widely reported at the time. Her ground breaking work on the subject, which began as an article in Ladies Home Journal, then became the book, is responsible for the warnings on the packaging of the Pill and of the reduction of estrogen in the Pill today.
She was no fan of the pharmaceutical companies, or of the medical establishment. She was critical of hormone replacement therapy, silicone breast implants and the deluge of unnecessary hysterectomies. She later wrote a biography of Jacqueline Susann, as a break from her more serious research.
Ms. Blyth remembers Seaman as a mentor for young women trying to break into the publishing world, for hosting writer's groups and for holding book parties for authors.
She was vocal about the mentality of doctors in the 1960's and 70's being one of treating women as if we were stupid and as though it was a bother to explain answers to questions. Women of a certain age, ahem, remember that attitude. It is what produced my opinion that the only doctor for me is a female doctor, particularly as far as 'female' health is involved. I have never had a male doctor for ob/gyn health care.
The end of Seaman's life came in the throes of lung cancer. At the age of 72 she chose not to have chemotherapy. She chose to work up until the very end, as Buckley did, and she wanted to maintain the energy to finish the two books on which we was working.
The lives of interesting people is always a favorite choice in my reading material. Barbara Seaman fit the bill quite well. May she rest in peace.