cal consciousness in working-class women can guide us in developing conceptual frameworks that capture the complex ways that gender, race, ethnicity, and
class become politically meaningful in their interrelatedness in daily life and
I want to gratefully acknowledge the many conversations I had during the course
of this campaign with activists directly involved in the struggle and others active
politically in the community. That they go unnamed (to preserve anonymity) in
no way belies the value of their insights and contributions.
"Fleetport" is a pseudonym for a community of approximately one hundred
thousand people in the northeastern United States. For a more detailed discussion of the
community and its health care, see Sandra Morgen, "The Dynamics of Cooptation in a
Feminist Health Clinic", Social Science and Medicine 23, No. 2 ( 1986): 201-210.
During my fieldwork I conducted a study of the health needs and attitudes of
low-income women in Fleetport. The results of the survey of more than 250 low-income
women showed very real problems of cost, accessibility, and atmosphere facing women
seeking health care from the available sources. Clinic care was perceived to be problematic in terms of concerns ranging from length of waits for appointments to crowding.
Nevertheless, clinic care rated much higher than private care on such items as affordability and the perceived treatment of patients. At the time of the termination of clinic
services, in the autumn of 1977, attendance at the prenatal and gynecology clinics was
I was a participant-observer in the feminist health clinic from April 1977
through late 1979. During my involvement with CAFH I was regarded as a representative
of the feminist clinic to CAFH by both CAFH and feminist collective members.
The Health Systems Agency ( HSA) discussed in this paper was a local subarea
council. HSAs, established nationwide with the 1974 passage of the National Health
Planning and Resource Development Act, are mechanisms for joint planning of health
care by professionals and consumers. HSAs exist on the state, regional, and (in some
cases) local level. There are complicated formulas for mandating representatives from
different sexual, racial, age, and occupational groups. For a discussion of HSAs and their
limitations in fostering consumer/community-controlled health care, see articles in Victor
Ruth Sidel, eds., Reforming Medicine: Lessons of the Last Quarter Century ( New
York: Pantheon, 1984).
The "Ten Taxpayers" suit is a procedural suit that can be filed by any ten
"taxpaying citizens" in a community. The suit made these ten taxpayers (and CAFH)
party to a petition filed with the state department of Public Health concerning a proposed
capital improvement campaign by the hospital. Although I do not discuss in detail the
impact of the filing of the suit on the coalition, let me note here that the suit did ultimately
create considerable tension between working-class and middle-class women in the group.
Although everyone had agreed that CAFH should file the suit as a means of securing the
information it needed for its continued successful organizing, legal intricacies became all
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Women and the Politics of Empowerment.
Contributors: Ann Bookman - Editor, Sandra Morgen - Editor.
Publisher: Temple University Press.
Place of publication: Philadelphia.
Publication year: 1988.
Page number: 113.
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