The 1957 birth of Seaman's first child greatly influenced her career path. When she told her obstetrician that she planned to breast feed, he responded that she "didn't have the right personality for it, too educated," she wrote in a statement for the Jewish Women's Archive.
Her doctor assumed that she would follow his advice and prescribed a laxative that she inadvertently passed on to her son through her breast milk. He nearly died.
"He recovered, but in one sense I did not, for I would never again trust a doctor blindly," Seaman wrote in her 2003 book "The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth."
In her first book, "The Doctors' Case Against the Pill," Seaman exposed the serious and little-known side effects of the high-estrogen pill prescribed at the time. Women weren't warned that the pill could cause heart attacks, strokes, depression and a host of other ills.
Her investigative work prompted Senate hearings in 1970 that led to a warning label on the drug and the mandatory inclusion of patient-information inserts.
When women who had been harmed by the pill were barred from testifying at the hearings, they fought back by constantly interrupting, calling out questions such as "Why isn't there a pill for men?" and "Why are 10 million women being used as guinea pigs?" Seaman wrote 30 years later in the New York Times.
Those acts of "feminist disobedience," as Seaman called them, are often portrayed as ground zero of the women's health movement.
According to Cynthia A. Pearson, the network's executive director, "the kind of journalism that Barbara started doing back in the 1960s . . . affected most of the women in this country. It led to more women in medical school, more written information in patient's hands, the breaking down of rules against dads in the delivery room. It was profound."
"We were very grass-roots and she took to us and smoothed the path for us over the years," Downer said. "She was just a hub of the women's health movement. She brought the best out in all of us, and she had an impact on women's health around the world."