Women’s Health Rights Advocate, Joan Dunlop, Walks On


Joan Dunlop, an advocate for women’s health rights, walked on June 29 at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut. Her fight for women’s rights includes the right to say no to sex, the right to have an abortion, as well as population control. Dunlop died of breast cancer.

She prodded the United Nations to define a woman’s right to say no to sex as an essential human right.

In 2008, she said the next president of this country should put women’s sexual and reproductive rights at the top of his or her agenda.

“On day one the president should say, ‘hold me accountable, women’s rights, women’s reproductive and sexual rights are on the top of my agenda,’” Dunlop said in a YouTube video that year.

From 1984 to 1998 Dunlop was president of the International Women’s Health Coalition. While in that position, she lobbied delegates and a universal guideline about the right to say no to sex was endorsed by more than 180 nations at a conference in 1995 in Beijing.

In 1994, she and 15 colleagues wrote the “Women’s Declaration on Population Policies,” which the U.N. adopted.

As a young woman she had an illegal abortion in England, which led to her activism for women’s reproductive rights.

Dunlop was a warrior for women’s rights, just like the many Native American women who continue to fight to get the Violence Against Women Act reauthorized. Women like Deborah Parker, vice-chairwoman of the Tulalip, who told her story in April.

A June 30 New York Times article says that on Dunlop’s last day at the International Women’s Health Coalition in 1998 she was given letters from women in which they described what she had done for them.

“It’s almost better than an obituary,” Dunlop said on the occasion, “because you’re not dead.”

Click here to read the full New York Times piece about Joan Dunlop.