Singing and Dancing Fetuses: Art, Life, and Abortion at “The Appointment”

My earliest days in healthcare were at abortion clinics. First as a counselor and then as a nurse, I cared for hundreds of patients seeking abortion care. At clinics, I learned how to perform ultrasounds with the screen angled away from my patient; I learned how to tell which patients would be relieved in the… Read more →

Hanne Blank’s FAT

Dr. Hanne Blank Boyd is a writer, editor, and consultant whose published work lies at the intersection of bodies, selves, and cultures. Publishing under the name Hanne Blank, she is the author or editor of ten books that include Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon Press), Virgin: The Untouched History (Bloomsbury), and most recently FAT (Bloomsbury, 2020). Formerly… Read more →

Looking Back to Look Forward: Learning from the Boston Women’s Health Center in a Post-Dobbs World

On Friday, June 24th, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A contested court case that faced controversy since it was decided in 1973, Roe v. Wade was the only constitutional protection for abortion rights in the United States. According to the Supreme Court ruling, the 14th Amendment protects a constitutional right… Read more →

Pennyroyal, Mifepristone, and the Long History of Medication Abortions

Around midnight on September 16, 1866, Dr. W. A. Wilcox of Saint Louis, Missouri, was called to the home of “Mrs. L,” a thirty-year-old married mother of two. Mr. L had been out for the evening and returned home at eleven to find his wife unconscious. When Dr. Wilcox arrived, Mrs. L was pale and… Read more →

Bags O’ Glass and Bayonet Eyes: Toy Safety and Consumer Protection, 1968–1976

On December 11, 1976, Saturday Night Live aired its first “Consumer Probe” sketch on the sale of unsafe toys. Drawing on print and broadcast safety warnings from organizations like Consumer Reports and the recently-established Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the sketch lampooned the U.S. toy industry for endangering kids to maximize profits. Featuring Candice Bergen… Read more →

Gender-Neutral Sex Toys: Turning Gender Dysphoria in the Bedroom into Gender Euphoria

Nestled amidst Allen Ginsberg’s dildo, some vanilla-flavored underwear that offers sexually-transmitted infection (STI) protection, and a Braille issue of Playboy magazine, the plastic Unisex Toy sits proudly behind a glass panel in New York City’s Museum of Sex. It’s shaped like a spinning top, with one end elongated into a pole and the other curved… Read more →

Trans Pregnancy and TikTok Activism: A Shifting Conversation

“Is society ready for this pregnant husband?” was the subheading of Thomas Beatie’s 2008 essay about his pregnancy. Mr. Beatie was considered the first pregnant trans man to come forward publicly; his story was hugely influential in terms of visibility but also the subject of hurtful jokes and discrimination (Barbara Walters, for example, referred to… Read more →

A Duet With History: Lizzo and James Madison’s Crystal Flute

At her Washington DC concert on September 27, 2022, musician and pop superstar Lizzo played a 200-year-old crystal flute that once belonged to James Madison onstage in front of an audience of thousands. While living in the White House, Madison continued to own and operate his Montpelier plantation in Virginia, where he enslaved over 300… Read more →

Law, Medicine, Women’s Authority, and the History of Troubled Births: Review of Proving Pregnancy

With Roe v Wade upended, the balance of power and authority among lawmakers, medical practitioners, and pregnant and birthing people is suddenly in flux. And at the center of the storm, the safety and autonomy of those carrying (and losing) pregnancies is in jeopardy. Historical investigations into troubled pregnancies and births, therefore, are salient and… Read more →

“If they were white and insured, would they have died?”: Contextualizing the 2022 Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Report

In December 2022 – a few days shy of the new year – the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) and Department of State Health Services released a joint Biennial Report on maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the state. They use term “maternal mortality” to describe the death of a childbearing person… Read more →