Last updated: Sep 11, 2008

You've read the best advances in women's health over the last 20 years. Here, our list of the top seven bad things in women's health.



“Youve come a long way …” not so much
In 1968, Virginia Slims co-opted the feminist movement by portraying smoking as an empowered act. The “Youve Come a Long Way, Baby” campaign ran through the 1980s, well after tobacco companies knew that smoking can cause lung cancer.

Forced sterilizations
In rural Alabama, two African-American girls Mary Alice and Minnie Relf, 12 and 14 in 1973, were deemed mentally incompetent and then sterilized without their consent. The case brought attention to the practice of using federal funds to sterilize mostly poor minorities in the name of public health.

The hysteria diagnosis
From ancient times until 1980, sexually frustrated and otherwise emotional women were diagnosed with hysteria, a constellation of multiple symptoms that added up to one hell of a bad mood. Treatment for the problem was often doctor-administered “pelvic massage.” Gee, wonder why it was diagnosed so often?

The need for a Plan C
In 2004, at an Eckerd pharmacy in Texas, a pharmacist refused to fill a sexual-assault-victims prescription for Plan B emergency contraception because it “violated his morals.” (To prevent pregnancy, the drug must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse; the woman was able to fill her prescription at a Walgreens later that evening.) All three of the Eckerd pharmacists were later fired for violating the patients rights. But this was just one of a spate of cases involving pharmacists who refused to dispense the legal drug because they view the Plan B pill as an abortifacient.

Down-there tweaks
In 2005, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon performs a labioplasty (the first of many) on his reality show Dr. 90210—and the procedure has been gaining popularity ever since. Is no part too private to need to be perfected?

Tom Cruise slamming the baby blues
In July 2005, on the Today show, actor Tom Cruise slammed Brooke Shields—and by extension, every woman who has suffered from postpartum depression—saying she should have simply exercised and taken vitamins and not used antidepressants.

A plastic-surgery picture book
A 2008 book, My Beautiful Mommy, gives some pat explanations for why mom looks like she was run over by a semi after getting a breast augmentation or tummy tuck. A question it doesnt answer: “Do I need to get operated on so I can be prettier, too?”