President Bush Funds 'Johanna's Law'

President Bush signed Johanna's Law on January 12, 2007, landmark legislation that authorizes development of a national gynecologic cancer awareness campaign. Both houses of Congress unanimously approved Johanna's Law: the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act in late 2006.

On December 26, 2007, President Bush signed an Omnibus spending bill that appropriated $6.5 million towards Johanna's Law, allowing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch a national campaign in 2008 to educate American women and health professionals about the signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancers.
Johanna's Law is named for Johanna Silver Gordon, who died from ovarian cancer in 2000.

"This achievement is the result of the tireless work and dedication of all of our Congressional champions, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and a far-reaching alliance of grassroots activists whose lives have been touched by gynecologic cancers," said Sherry Salway Black, executive director of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. "The ovarian cancer community in particular has played a critical role in the passage of Johanna's Law through the Ovarian Cancer Action Network."

"This is an exciting development in our efforts to save women's lives through earlier detection of ovarian cancer," said Johanna's sister, Sheryl Silver, who conceived Johanna's Law and has worked tirelessly for its passage. "By educating the public about the risk factors and symptoms of gynecologic cancers, Johanna's Law will help women recognize potentially dangerous symptoms and seek appropriate medical attention sooner."

The Ovarian Cancer Action Network and other advocates now have another hurdle to overcome. Because Johanna's Law is an authorizing measure, it does not include any appropriations, so Ovarian Cancer Action Network and other advocates will need to work to urge Congressional funding for the campaign.

"Today the Senate has passed another bill, the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act, or "Johanna's Law," which will again direct CDC and FDA to educate the public about cervical cancer as well as other forms of gynecological cancer.

I would like to recognize Senator Arlen Specter, Congressman Darrell Issa, cancer survivor Fran Drescher, and the countless other activists who are cancer survivors themselves or have a loved one who has been diagnosed with gynecological cancer who have championed this bill through Congress."

- The Honorable Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma

"The second person whom I would like to acknowledge is Ms. Fran Drescher who also must deserve great credit for getting this legislation through the Congress. Her commitment to having this bill signed into law has been very impressive to me. Ms. Drescher has tirelessly visited with Members of Congress this entire week and will be staying in town until this legislation is passed by both Houses of Congress.

While I have known Fran for many years, it was gratifying to be reminded of her tremendous enthusiasm and her commitment to women's health. Ms. Drescher is extremely articulate when she advocating for Johanna's law. And that is because as a cancer survivor herself, she is strongly committed to educating women about awareness and early detection of gynecologic cancers.

It was painful for me to hear her story. Over a period of two years, Ms. Drescher tried to get a diagnosis for her symptoms. She saw eight doctors before being told that she had uterine cancer. This should never happen. Ms. Drescher recognizes that women must know the early warning signs of all gynecologic cancers and which tests are available because women cannot assume that these tests will be offered to them.

In addition, she is the author of the book Cancer Schmancer which discusses how she beat uterine cancer. Her dedication and commitment have made a tremendous difference and we all greatly appreciate her efforts. Mr. President, both Ms. Warren and Ms. Drescher are truly amazing women who have shown a selfless dedication to making a difference in the lives of others.

It is for Grace Warren, and Fran Drescher, and the many, many other women who will be challenged by gynecological cancers that we must pass this legislation. I strongly support this bill because I want women and their health care providers all to be educated about the early warning signs of these cancers. I want a screening test to be developed so that it will be easier to diagnose gynecological cancers in the early stages of the disease. I am tired of women having limited health care options because of late stage diagnosis. This must change. But, I am hopeful that we can start to make a difference in the lives of all women the minute that this bill is signed into law. I urge my colleagues to support Johanna's Law."

- The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch, Senator from Utah