DES Voices Book Review


It’s been a long time since a new book has been published regarding the DES tragedy. DES Action Co-Founder Pat Cody, at the epicenter of consumer activity for more than 30 years, has taken up the challenge and written our story – a saga of our DES experiences.

The title tells it all. DES Voices: From Anger to Action, and each of us can understand it.

Cody, a DES Mother herself, included many of the voices important to our struggle:  DES Daughters, Sons, Mothers, Fathers, Attorneys, Researchers and Clinicians.

She describes how DES, an easy to manufacture synthetic hormone, was promoted to doctors for use with problem pregnancies. Greedy drug companies even urged doctors to prescribe DES for all pregnancies to ensure healthy babies – long after DES was proven ineffective.

As cancers and later infertility and other reproductive problems were linked to DES exposure, there was a frightful lack of information for those who needed it most – the mothers and children who were just learning about their exposures.

In pre-Internet America, phone calls, flyers and hastily called meetings mobilized the concerned. Groups sprang up in far flung cities around the country, eventually coalescing into the DES Action organization that has been at the forefront of this issue ever since.

Throughout the book, Cody includes correspondence and transcripts of events as they unfolded. In reflecting on the importance of understanding the health effects of DES exposure to society as a whole, she says, “the dying swans and gasping fish cannot speak of their sufferings, but humans affected by chemicals can be eloquent, as the letters of this book show.”

DES Voices is the amazing story of how a small group of determined individuals accomplished so much with so little. Even now, DES Action is considered a model of an effective grassroots consumer organization because of the passion and energy that generated Congressional hearings, followed later with funding for DES research and educational campaigns. This is a story of which we can be proud.

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