The Feminist Woman's Health Center (FWHC) of Yakima, Washington was established in 1980 by two women who wanted to "bring reproductive choice to women in the large rural area known as Central Washington." Now the Center operates three clinics throughout Washington State: the Cedar River Clinic in Renton, Cascade Family Planning in Tacoma, and A Woman's Choice Clinic in Yakima. Modeled after the Feminist Woman's Health Centers in California that grew out of the Women's Liberation Movement and inspired by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the FWHC of Washington State defines its mission as "to achieve reproductive freedom for women."
Primarily the FWHC website serves as a portal to information regarding women's health issues. Some highlights include medical, safety and legal information about abortion; health related information about birth control, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); tips on breast care, sexuality education, and eating healthy; and information about the menstrual cycle, menopause, and woman's medical conditions and diseases. There is also a regularly updated portal to reproductive health news and editorial sources, as well as various "herstories" about reproductive rights and watershed events.
As a feminist organization interested in contemporary woman's rights issues, the FWHC helps to organize local, state, and national protests and rallies and encourages its visitors to get involved. Consequently it provides a links page dedicated to activist organizations and causes. The main links page supplies more than 400 links to pro-choice, feminist, and health websites, as well as online discussion groups and email newsletters . In addition, the site supplies links to a vast amount of resources, including books, videos, periodicals, woman's hotlines, and abortion providers.
Under the assumption that "telling personal stories heals us," the site gives visitors the opportunity to submit personal stories about their experiences with birth control, abortion, pregnancy, and other women's issues. Stories can be submitted by email or by signing the guestbook. Believing that "knowledge leads to empowerment," the site answers more than 40 reproductive and health related questions in its extensive FAQs section. There is also a merchandise section that sells various feminist books, posters, a self exam kit, a speculum, and other items.
The Feminist Woman's Health Center website is thoughtfully designed and content rich. The overall layout and aesthetic appeal is quite good; this reviewer found no broken links, unloaded images, or typographical errors. The search functionality is outsourced to a decent search hosting service, which provides clear and useable search results. Navigation is straightforward and user-friendly considering the vast amount of information on hand – although it would be more convenient to have a link to the homepage in the header of the site, not only the footer. Moreover, the homepage sidebar menu is so well designed one wonders why it's not also available throughout the site. Taken together the website is successful in presenting the wide-ranging issues behind abortion rights and woman's reproductive health.
Center for History and New Media
March 16, 2004