Make Love Not War: Changing the Conversation on Abortion

By Jacqueline Antonovich

Things have been pretty hectic lately for the folks who work and study in Lane Hall, the small, historic building at the far end of University of Michigan’s central campus. Over the past two months the building that houses the Women’s Studies Department and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) has been the target of anti-choice protesters. Lane Hall has been peppered with anti-choice leaflets, the main entry steps have been vandalized with chalk, and protesters have picketed the sidewalks in front of the building. Staff in Lane Hall have also been fielding phone calls from angry activists, alumni, and others. As Debra M. Schwartz, senior public relations representative for IRWG told me recently, “Some of us in Lane Hall and a few other university offices have been distracted from our routine work. But, in general, the protest has scarcely been noticed on campus. It feels like a tempest in a teapot.”

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-The latest moral panic.
-The case for reparations.
-The history of stranger danger.
-On history, racism, and ice cream.
-The history of the men’s white shirt.
-Century-old time capsule mystery solved.

Announcing the First Ever Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the Berkshire Conference

By Heather Munro Prescott

Last year I reported on the gender gap in Wikipedia and efforts by women’s historians and others to remedy it. To recap: Several years ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and found that less than 15 percent of its hundreds of thousands of contributors are women. These sobering statistics gained widespread publicity in a January 2011 New York Times article by Noam Cohen and an ensuing flurry of media coverage in various venues, including Mother Jones, the Atlantic, and NPR. Blogger Tenured Radical (aka Claire Potter) reported on gender bias in Wikipedia in an article titled “Prikipedia? Or, Looking for the Women on Wikipedia.”

If the IUD is an Abortifacient, Then So is Chemotherapy and Lunch Meat

When I criticized Hobby Lobby for its attempts to evade the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, a friend of mine thoughtfully replied, “Lara, I don’t think the Hobby Lobby case has anything to do with the daily birth control pill — it is only dealing with not wanting to cover drugs and medical devices that actually “end”… Read more →

Punishing Pushy Women: Gender and Power in the Newsroom

Until last week, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times, was considered the nineteenth most powerful woman in the world. She was the first woman ever to hold that particular job, and she managed it during a challenging period, as the Times moved to embrace digital technology and cope with the changing face… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-E. coli and bacterial sex.
-Rare footage of FDR walking.
-Leprosy vaccine scientist dies.
-Poverty among Holocaust survivors.
-Can the measles vaccine cure cancer?
-The racist roots of common phrases.
-The 19th-century vegetable version of Viagra.

Is Contraception “Health Care”? The Hobby Lobby Case

by Lara Freidenfelds

As we wait for the Supreme Court to render a decision on the Hobby Lobby contraception coverage case, I have been pondering the historical relationship between contraception and health care. Is it obvious that contraception should be considered part of “health care?” And would it be possible to decide that it isn’t, but still make it affordable and available? This case seems, to me, to rest largely on whether we think contraception counts as health care. The justices are wary of an outcome that would allow employers to decline to pay for blood transfusions or routine vaccinations, even if an employer might genuinely have religious reservations about those procedures. Those are clearly health care. Contraception, though, seems different. It is prescribed for healthy people, and it does not cure or prevent disease (at least not directly).

Eirebrushed: Erasing Women from Irish History

By Helen McBride

A new play opened in Dublin this week called Eirebrushed. Written by Brian Merriman, the play tells the story of Elizabeth O’Farrell, whose role as combatant has been quite literally airbrushed out of Irish history and the 1916 Easter Rising. The Easter Rising of 1916 was a significant rebellion against British colonization and, while it ultimately failed, it sparked a series of events that eventually lead to the independence of Ireland (first as the Irish Free State, a dominion of the British Commonwealth, in 1922, and then as the independent Republic of Ireland in 1948). Elizabeth O’Farrell, a midwife and member of Cumann na mBan (the League of Women), has been described as a “fierce Republican” and played a significant role in the rebellion of 1916. O’Farrell actively fought for the independence of Ireland from British colonization before and during the Easter Rising, delivering bulletins and instructions to the rebel outposts around Dublin. As Eirebrushed brings to our attention, her legacy, and those of other women active in the movement, has been diminished in the commemoration of the Easter Rising and its role in sparking the Irish Civil War.

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-Vintage Vegas!
-‘Till sickness do us part…
-The lost village of New York City.
-Maternal deaths falling worldwide.
-Polio is now an international emergency.
-Chasing death camp guards with new tools.
-What is the C-section rate of your hospital?

Medicine, Modernity, and the Maternal Body

by Jodi Vandenberg-Daves

When I set out to write a synthesis of the history of motherhood in the U.S. back in 2008, I’d been teaching a course by that name for more than a decade. I didn’t anticipate that as I explored this history, I would soon witness a multi-faceted and partisan assault on reproductive rights. Perhaps this political context was part of the reason I found that, as I dug ever deeper into this scholarship, questions about the modernization of the maternal body and the various political tensions embedded within this process kept bubbling to the surface.