Maternal and Child Health
Section Newsletter
Fall 2008


Suddenly the seasons are changing and autumn is upon us; and the APHA Annual Meeting is right on the horizon.  This fall the Annual Meeting has been moved up a week to allow for the national elections, and our thanks to Carol and Ann, who put together another excellent Section Program!  Although I realize that the economy and the cost of travel will prohibit many of you from coming, this message will talk about how you can be involved in the important work of the Section, regardless of attendance in San Diego.


The meeting represents a transition to the new chair, JoAnne Fischer.  She and I are working together closely to make this change as seamlessly as possible.  Congratulations also to the new slate of officers for the 2008-2010 period, which includes Debbie Jackson as chair-elect and Lauren Raskin-Ramos as secretary-elect.


The Section developed a strategic plan at the Midyear Meeting in March 2007, with goals that include: 


  • Influence national MCH policies.
  • Assure that APHA is positioned to play an active role in MCH policy.
  • Develop leadership within the Section.
  • Communicate with members about policy and programmatic issue.

For more information, please see the Section Web site or contact me.


HOW we implement the Strategic Plan is as important as determining WHAT goes into it.  The Section has improved its effectiveness in action by increasing communication with monthly leadership conference calls, and by establishing working committees for specific projects.  The Child Health Policy Committee, led by Jane Pearson, is an excellent example of such a task group.


In San Diego, the structure of the meeting has been changed, both for the Association in general and for the MCH Section.  The meeting has been moved back onto the weekend and made more compact to meet current travel, work and family needs.  The main MCH leadership meeting has been moved to Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., followed by the Student Fellows orientation.  On Sunday, the MCH Section begins with a “town hall” session on the new Child Health Policy, and the major membership meeting takes place in the afternoon from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.  Monday afternoon, Debbie Klein Walker, who has served as both chair of the Section and as president of the Association, is moderating an important session on “Developing the MCH Agenda,” which is the second attempt to involve State Affliates in MCH issues. 


There is much to do.  The Nominations Committee will be active at this meeting as will the Student Fellowship Committee.  There are ideas about changing committee structure and the timing and focus of the midyear meetings.  There are major policy issues being launched.  At the Saturday leadership meeting, the action agenda will be finalized.   Besides the meetings already listed, there are open meeting times on Monday and Tuesday mornings, reserved for committee work, giving committees a full opportunity to meet face to face. 


For those of you who will not be coming to San Diego, your time to be involved is now.  Over the next four weeks, you will receive several e-mails asking you to help.  An early invitation to join the leadership will go out, to help the Nominations Committee do its job.  Also, requests for involvement in policy development and advocacy are forthcoming.  It is a great time for you to get involved in the work of the MCH Section.


At the end of the San Diego meeting, I will step down as chair and turn the gavel over to JoAnne.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this role, and it has been made so easy by the leaders who have worked with me.  As immediate past chair, I will become responsible for awards; we have some great ideas to develop, which were discussed at this year’s Mid-year Meeting.


I must now and again thank my executive group:  Jane Pearson has done an incredible job as secretary; Karen VanLandingham has brought the Student Initiative to a new level; and JoAnne Fischer has changed the actual look of MCH with our new logo.   Carol Nelson has stuck with me and worked through all the program problems;  Ann Dozier is coming on to be the upcoming program chair;  Joseph Telfair has worked with the group of Governing Councilors to assure an MCH voice throughout APHA.  Of course, without Clare Feinson as newsletter editor, you would not be reading these words.   My thanks to all the Section Councilors, Governing Councilors and committee chairs, who have done such a good job.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.   On Tuesday evening in San Diego, I am having a reception and minor awards ceremony to honor those people who have done so much.   If you are in San Diego please join us.


See you in San Diego….or online.  We need your participation no matter how you can provide it.  


Barbara Levin

Chair, MCH Section 


Some of you may have tried to submit newsletter articles this time, only to have them bounce back.  Others may have previously submitted articles to me that do not appear in this newsletter.  My apologies to you all for the computer problems that destroyed my e-mail just after I sent out the request for articles for this issue.  If your article did not get through, or if you sent me one previously and you do not see it here, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, send it to me again for the next issue at   



Spring '09 Newsletter Deadline will be sometime around the beginning of June.


Please continue to send articles about the Section, about your work, or about you personally, to share with other Section members.  There is no word limit, but please be succinct and include links for more information.  I only edit the newsletter, but you write it, so I thank you all for your continuing contributions.


Clare Feinson

MCH Newsletter Editor


Long-time Section member and legislative leader Joseph Telfair has been nominated for a position on the APHA Executive Board.  This is a great honor both for him and for the Section.  The following is his position statement:


Public health issues facing the nation and world are diverse and complex.  APHA is faced with the challenge of how to help our members, affiliates and leaders in the field make the best decisions to capitalize on opportunities to:


1.   Address the diverse challenges facing public health through effective practice, advocacy, education and policies.

2.   Make a difference in both short and long-term efforts through the support of existing and new APHA policies in making health care a right for all, particularly the under-served, building public health infrastructure through work force development, increasing funding, and strengthening collaborative partnerships at the local, national and international levels.

3.   Use the Executive Board to make APHA a more effective organization through decisive, diplomatic and representative leadership in the areas of policy execution, organizational management, program review and coordination, membership functions and deployment matters specific to Association Boards and Committees.


My experience within my Caucus, on the Governing Council, as part of the leadership in my Section, familiarity with internal workings of APHA, and my background as an advocate, diplomat, and community-based participatory public health researcher can benefit the Association’s activities.


I will take seriously my responsibility to listen to the voices of APHA members and to learn and share effective approaches to challenges facing our organization. I promise to combine my passion for public health with a commitment to serve in a manner that allows for achievement of critical results that are mutually agreed upon and implemented to formulate sound decisions for the purpose of making APHA a more effective organization. I believe and have demonstrated throughout my public health career that – Commitment to service + Diplomacy = Results.


Mentors are needed for the 10 new Student Fellows who were selected for the 2008-2009 Fellowship program.  They will begin their fellowships at the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting.


The Fellows are matched with a mentor from the Section and are involved in many Section activities, including assisting the chair, serving as Governing Council assistants, writing/editing for the Section newsletter, assisting with the Web site, working on projects within the committees of the Section, and assisting in the planning of the MCH program at the Annual Meeting.


If you are interested in serving as a mentor, please let me know what capacity they would serve in and how many Student Fellows you could use (some have mentored two Fellows in the past).

Although the new Fellows will not participate in a formal orientation until the Annual Meeting, we like to pair the mentors and the Fellows as soon as possible, to get the Fellows engaged early in the activities of the Section.


Finally, if you served as a mentor for a 2007-08 Student Fellow please continue to involve them in your committee and other activities.  We want to keep these new leaders and new graduates engaged in the work of the Section.  Thanks!


Karen VanLandeghem, Secretary-Elect


Come join the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes (IPO) Committee at the 136th Annual Meeting in San Diego, Oct. 25-29, 2008, which focuses on "Public Health Without Borders."


Last year in Washington, D.C., our committee actively contributed to a successful Annual Meeting.  As you will see below, the IPO Committee will again play a highly visible role at this year’s meeting.  Come join our dynamic group, which is committed to improving the health of mothers and babies. We welcome new members.


1.      IPO Committee Business Meeting

Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008 2-3:30 p.m. Session 236.0

At this annual planning meeting, we will set our priorities and goals for the coming year and plan sessions for 2009.  You do not have to be a member of the IPO Committee to attend this meeting. You are welcome to come and check out the activities of our committee. Of course, if you wish to join our committee, as always, new members are welcome!


2.      IPO Podium and Poster Sessions

With a record-breaking number of abstract submissions, the IPO committee is the official planner of more sessions then ever!  We have four podium sessions and two poster sessions. 




Session 1: Improving pregnancy outcomes using a life course perspective: Stepping outside traditional prenatal care borders.  Monday, Oct. 27, 8:30-10:00 a.m., Session 3048.0


Session 2: Improving pregnancy outcomes by moving beyond biomedical borders: Examining stress in pregnancy.  Monday, Oct. 27, 12:30-2:00 p.m., Session 3340


Session 3:  Improving perinatal outcomes across racial/ethnic borders: Examining persistent disparities.  Tuesday, Oct. 28, 8:30–10:00 a.m., Session 4107.0


Session 4: Improving prenatal outcomes: A survey of cutting edge issues.  Wednesday, Oct. 29, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Session 5121




Session 1:  Improving pregnancy outcomes Poster Session 1: Public Health without Borders.  Monday, Oct. 27, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Session 3179.0


Session 2:  Improving pregnancy outcomes Poster Session 2: Public Health without Borders.  Wednesday, Oct. 29, 8:30–9:30 a.m., Session 5020.0


Please refer to the program for possible last minute changes!


The Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee is an active committee in the Maternal and Child Health Section.  We welcome your participation and input.  If you would like more information about our work or would like to become a member, please e-mail one of the committee co-chairs. 


With Warmest Regards from your co-chairs,


Judith Katzburg                                                                                         


Tyan Parker-Dominguez


Janine Lewis


The International Health Committee of the MCH Section has several important sessions planned for the Annual Meeting.  The business meeting, session # 237, will be held on Sunday, Oct. 26, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. This is a great time to see old friends and meet new committee members, and it is open to all who are interested in IH/MCH.  We will start with an update on the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival (USCCS) from Dr. Andrew Barrer.  USCCS has done a tremendous job of advocating for increased funds for USAID grant programs, with the assistance of many people including members of our section; for more information, see 


In addition to the business meeting, we will have a presentation from Dr. Frank Anderson, an OB/GYN at the University of Michigan.  Dr. Anderson has an MPH from Johns Hopkins and has worked with the USAID Child Survival Program.  He has done extensive research on maternal mortality in Ghana and Haiti, including demonstrating the effect of maternal mortality on child survival, as well as utilizing verbal autopsies and maternal mortality reviews to improve maternal outcomes.  Dr. Anderson will provide a brief presentation and lead a discussion about the role of maternal mortality review in low resource settings.  For more about Dr. Anderson and his work, see  The presentation will be followed by a business meeting, which will include planning for the coming year. 


Our committee will also sponsor two other sessions, one on the role of traditional birth attendants (TBAs), using examples from several countries.  This session will focus on the controversy surrounding the role of TBAs in settings where skilled birth attendance is not realistic now and likely will not be in the near future.  The session, which should raise many important issues about maternal care, is #4106 on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 10:30 a.m.  Our poster session, focusing on understanding risks and improving interventions for healthy women and newborns, is #5023 at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29.  We look forward to seeing you and engaging in lively discussions about these important issues.


Judy Lewis

Co-Chair, MCH International Health Committee


In an effort to develop and implement new community intervention strategies that address the burdens of maternal and infant mortality in Louisiana, The Louisiana Public Health Institute has hired Christy Norsworthy as Director of Maternal and Child Health Policy and Planning.  Norsworthy was previously the Associate Director of STEPS to a Healthier New Orleans, the City of New Orleans nutrition and physical activity program that addressed obesity, asthma and diabetes. In her new role as director, she will develop and promote statewide maternal and child health objectives with a particular focus on risk and preventive factors associated with maternal, infant, and child mortality and morbidity.  Priority areas of focus for women’s health include the family planning waiver, pre-and inter-conceptual health, behavioral health, and primary care integration, related Medicaid and primary care access policies.    For additional information contact Christy at (504) 301-9825 or .


Founded in 1997, The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s mission is to promote and improve the health and quality of life in Louisiana through public-private partnering at the community, parish and state levels. For more information visit


The Indiana Perinatal Network played an instrumental role in advocating for a Workplace Lactation Support law that went in effect in the state of Indiana on July 1, 2008. The law requires state and government employers as well as private employers with at least 25 employees to make reasonable efforts to provide a private space (not a toilet stall) to express breast milk, and also accessibility to cold storage. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA 219) passed both chambers by a wide majority and was strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Manufacturers Association and the Indiana State Teacher Association.


Please visit for more information and a link to recently developed educational materials.


The CBS News feature Eye On Your Health ran a segment on Sept. 8, 2008 about Section member Ruth Lubic and her team of midwives, who run a birthing clinic in one of the poorest areas of Washington, D.C.  Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reported that the number of infant deaths per 1,000 births in the United States is 6.8, but in the District, it is 12.2.  After 800 babies in eight years, the Family Health and Birthing Center in northeast D.C. has never lost a child in childbirth and among the population it serves, the health center has cut the rate of premature births in half, saving lives and increasing the quality of life in our nation’s capital.  Lubic built her clinic in the District on purpose -- she figured if her ideas worked here, she would set an example everywhere.  Her approach is simple:  she believes low-income women, many on Medicaid, need the prenatal education -- about posture, nutrition, how a baby grows -- that midwives provide.  It boils down to the time spent with the mothers, and treating people with respect and dignity.  At 81 years old, Lubic runs the health center during the week, then spends time at home on the weekends with her husband in New York.  Lubic could be retired, but she says, "I'm not tired the first time, much less re-tired."  Her biggest fan is Councilmember David Catania, because she keeps hundreds of babies out of prenatal care, saving the District an estimated $1 million a year.  When Lubic hounds the Council for funding, Catania supports her, and teases her about being a pit bull with a smile.  Lubic is insufferable because of her belief that what she is doing is right, and Catania and others envy her burning drive, despite her age.  Infant mortality is a national disgrace that midwives can help solve -- and this pit bull with a smile will not let go of that idea until it sinks in nationwide.  To see the video, click on The Midwife On A Mission.


The Maternal and Child Health Library has released three new resource briefs that provide information on electronic resources for public health professionals, health care providers and families.

·         Genetics: Resource Brief is a guide to current resources on genetics and genomics, genetic testing, genetic counseling, genetic disorders, and newborn screening. This brief is available at

·         Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and Families: Resource Brief focuses on psychological and social impacts of ART on children conceived via ART and on their families, as well as ethical and legal issues associated with ART.  It is available at a

·         Environmental Health: Resource Brief focuses on environmental issues that affect the health of pregnant women and children. This brief is available at

Maternal and Child Health Library resources on other maternal and child health topics are available at

This information was posted on the Bringing Health Information to the Community (BHIC) blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM).  To receive the blog, visit their Web site at 


Please visit the new and improved MCH History Timeline, This interactive Web site and education tool traces the history of maternal and child health in the United States, provides in-depth modules on topics such as MCH 101, MCH Systems of Care, Infant Mortality, and MCH Performance and Accountability, and allows you to search for topical areas of interest to you.  New items have been added, and in the near future, it will also have available video clips in the oral history section from leaders who helped develop an MCH focus in schools of public health, those who shaped the MCH block grant, and family leaders.

If you are interested in MCH history and its legacy, this site is for you!

·   Use it to orient new staff, grantees or community groups to the field of MCH.

·   Use it as a teaching tool in your program.

·   Enjoy it as a source of inspiration and regeneration.


Despite extensive efforts to identify and treat women with symptoms threatening preterm birth, still more than half a million babies are born prematurely each year, representing one preterm birth each every minute.  In keeping with its mission to improve the heath of babies by preventing birth defects, preterm birth and infant mortality, the Arizona Chapter of the March of Dimes has recently produced the FREE educational CD-ROM, “Preterm Birth and the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign,” addressing this most serious health issue.  Available to health care providers and public health professionals, this 45-minute presentation covers current and future potential treatment protocols for preterm labor, recent statistics, and risk factors associated with preterm birth.  Additionally, the CD-ROM was shown to medical students to improve knowledge of prematurity.  Pre- and post-test results showed a 45 percent increase in knowledge by students on the subject of prematurity.  Results of this study were presented at the 2007 APHA Annual Meeting and have been submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed MCH journal. The CD-ROM has also just been awarded the Arizona Public Health Association Health Education Media Maker’s Yearly (HEMMY) Award for 2008  For free copies please contact Diane Zipley, State Director of Program Services and Public Affairs, the March of Dimes, Arizona Chapter at (602) 266-9933 or e-mail Diane at



On August 21, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released the State Profiles for Fiscal Year 2007.  The most comprehensive resource of its kind, the State Profiles include individual profiles of every state and the District of Columbia that are intended to serve as a guide and major resource for advocates, policy-makers, and other interested parties.  This fifth edition includes information from federal Fiscal Year 2007, which began on Oct. 1, 2006 and ended on Sept. 30, 2007, and tracks approximately $176 million in federal funding to abstinence-only-until-marriage grantees.


The State Profiles were compiled through extensive research, monitoring, and tracking of state and local developments around comprehensive sexuality education; conversations with state health officials and state advocates; and the solicitation of state records on federal abstinence-only-until-marriage grantees.  Our analysis for this edition looks at trends in the movement towards comprehensive sexuality education and, similarly, developments in the abstinence-only-until-marriage movement.


Highlights and trends from this edition of the State Profiles include:

·         As of September 2008, 25 states will no longer be participating in the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program.  This totals nearly $23 million in unspent monies. 

·         Health data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the last year reveal one in four teenage girls are infected with an STD and nearly half of all African American teenage girls are infected.

·         Other data from the biannually released Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System show little change in important health behaviors.  This data show disparities in sexual health behaviors among race, ethnicity and geographic location.

·         Texas received the highest amount of funding: $18,213,472.

·         Four states received no abstinence-only-until-marriage funding: Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont.  This is the first time since 1998 that any individual state has no federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding coming into its jurisdiction.

·         The majority of abstinence-only-until-marriage funding is concentrated in southern states; these 17 states received nearly half of all allocated funding ($84.6 million).

·         Kentucky and Illinois distribute the greatest amount of funding to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).

·         CPCs receive abstinence-only-until-marriage funds in 23 states, totaling  nearly $14 million in abstinence-only-until-marriage funds distributed from the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage and CBAE funding streams.


The State Profiles are available now at Print copies will also be available. 


For more information on expanding or developing state and local advocacy efforts around comprehensive sexuality education, or to obtain a hard copy of the profiles, please contact Catherine Morrison, State Policy Coordinator, at or (202) 265-2405.


The new vaccine that can prevent infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV) is still a controversial issue.  While the vaccination will not replace cervical cancer screening programs (regular gynecological exams with Pap smear test) for early detection and treatment of HPV infection and cervical cancer, most agree that this first chance in the history of medicine to prevent cancer by vaccination is one of the great recent achievements in women’s health, and that women should be aware of the vaccination and have easy access to the vaccine should they choose to use it.  


In a recent study, Dr. Maria Alexandrova of the Southern Illinois University explored knowledge about and utilization of the vaccine among college-age women.  Female college students at Minnesota State University, Mankato were asked about their awareness of HPV vaccination, whether they had access to the vaccine, and whether they had received the vaccination or planned to do so in the future. 


Although the majority of study participants were aware of the HPV vaccine and the cost was not a barrier, the number who had actually received the vaccination was low among this population. However, trends showed that the younger students were the ones who either planned to get the vaccination or had already received the vaccination.   Their main source of information was medical professionals and mass media


Dr. Alexandrova recommended that health education might facilitate conscious decision making in favor of the HPV vaccination.  In order to encourage female college students to receive the full benefit of the HPV vaccination, information about the HPV vaccine should be incorporated into the curricula of health-related classes taken by students, especially freshmen and sophomores, or even students at high schools and their parents before students become sexually active and exposed to HPV.  Dr. Alexandrova also recommended that information about immunization programs, including HPV, should be available on campus during new student orientations for both domestic and international students.  Finally, she recommended the creation of an immunization counseling program through student health services to address individual concerns about the HPV vaccination.


For further study, the findings suggested that there is a need to collect survey data from a sample with more ethnic and religious diversity, which might yield different findings concerning awareness, accessibility, and application of the HPV vaccine.  There is also need for further investigation of other barriers that might prevent college students from getting the HPV vaccine, such as attitudes about preventive health care, concerns about side effects, and attitudes about mandatory vaccination programs.  Needs assessment are also needed, to eliminate disparities in prevention access for those who cannot afford the vaccine.  Another recommendation is to study the awareness of the need for protection against HPV, and not just among the female population; we need to look at awareness about HPV and the vaccine among the male population, and to conduct cost-benefit analysis for HPV vaccination for men. 


For more information about the study, contact Dr. Alexandrova at


Despite modest progress, especially in Asia, the global maternal mortality toll remains stable due to a lack of financial resources and political will, says the United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as reported by Reuters.  In their report "Progress for Children:  A Report Card on Maternal Mortality," released Friday, Sept. 19, UNICEF said that women often bleed to death because no emergency obstetrical care is available.  The riskiest place to give birth is Niger, where the risk of a woman dying in pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 7, closely followed by Sierra Leone, where the risk is 1 in 8.  But other countries such as Sri Lanka and Mozambique have succeeded in lowering maternal mortality rates through a combination of making family planning available, training birth attendants, providing emergency obstetrical care, and providing post-natal care.  Although HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria receive the lion’s share of attention (and funding) in the developing world, maternal and child mortality do not yet receive the attention that the scale of the problem deserves.


A new study suggests that children whose mothers were exposed to even moderately severe stress during pregnancy may show the effects in their intellectual development.  The study assessed intellectual and language development in 89, 5-year-old children,  whose mothers were pregnant during an ice storm in Quebec, Canada that left several million without power for as long as six weeks.


Although all the children were within the normal range of intelligence, the researchers found that language development and verbal IQ tended to be lower in children whose mothers had faced the most stress during the storm -- living more days without power, being forced to stay in a shelter, or losing income, for instance.  More severe natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, likely have had greater potential effects on both mothers and children.

Dr. David P. Laplante of Douglas Hospital Research Centre in Canada led the team that reported their findings in the September issue of the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  However, the researchers emphasized to Reuters that more studies are needed to confirm whether or not stress can “program” fetal brain development.


Reuters reports that an article in the journal Fertility and Sterility in August 2008 suggests that obese men may have more trouble becoming fathers, even if they are otherwise healthy.  Lower hormonal levels, including testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) may account for lower reproductive rates.   Excess body fat is associated with the body’s conversion of testosterone into estrogen, decreasing libido in men and increasing the chance of erectile dysfunction.  The findings suggest that obesity alone is an "infertility factor" in otherwise healthy men, writes Dr. Eric M. Pauli and his colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey.


California State University, Long Beach, has a tenure track opening for an Assistant Professor of Feminist Health Studies, with an emphasis in urban and community public health or health policy, and sexuality and sex education.  Looking for a PhD at time of appointment (August 31, 2009) in health science or related discipline.  The successful candidate will teach lower and upper-division courses in women’s health and sexuality.  Experience in grant writing and community service/activism are preferred qualifications. Application requires a letter of application, current CV, three letters of recommendation, an official school transcript, and a current e-mail address.  Application reviews begin Oct. 10, 2008.  For more information, contact Wendy Griffin, Chair, Women’s Studies Department,


(This is an edited version of an e-mail that has been widely circulated, probably in conjunction with the HBO release of the film “Iron-Jawed Angels” – for more see


This is the story of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.



Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.



The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed
nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.  And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'


 (Lucy Burns)

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.


(Dora Lewis)

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.
  For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food -- all of it colorless slop -- was infested with worms.


 (Alice Paul)

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.   Woodrow Wilson and his cronies tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized, but the doctor refused, saying that Alice Paul was strong and brave, and that courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.

Today, we sometimes forget that voting, which is often regarded as an inconvenient nuisance, is a precious right that was won the hard way.  Think about it next time you step into the voting booth.