Karen Weingarten

Reproductive Designs and the Stories Behind Them: A Review of Designing Motherhood

Today almost all IUDs (intrauterine devices) look like the letter “T,” with arms that slightly droop and a string that dangles from its trunk. When inserted, the arms press against the walls of the uterus to help prevent pregnancy, and the string dangles down into a woman’s vagina as a way to check that the… Read more →

Abortion Out West: An Interview with Alicia Gutierrez-Romine

Published in 2020 by the University of Nebraska Press, Alicia Gutierrez-Romine’s From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920–1969 tells the story of abortion during the era it was outlawed in California. We recently chatted about how Gutierrez-Romine came to the topic, the challenges of telling these women’s stories, and why California… Read more →

Working Mothers

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed racial and class inequities in brutal ways. Gone are the early days when politicians might say that the virus affects us all equally. We can see in the statistics, in the losses, and in who fills up the hospital beds that this isn’t true. And just as the pandemic helped… Read more →

The Collective Power of Our Abortion Stories

“I had an abortion in 1999.” So begins Annie Finch’s important new anthology, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion, about the representation of abortion across literary genres. After her abortion, Finch searched to find depictions of the procedure in literature to make sense of her experience and was surprised to learn that no major collection existed…. Read more →

The Vaccine at the End of this Pandemic

In the summer of 1952, parents didn’t let their children visit playgrounds, swimming pools were closed, movie theaters shuttered, and when September finally arrived, some public schools didn’t open. The polio epidemic reached its peak that year, after several years of steadily increasing numbers of infections and deaths. In early December 1952, The New York… Read more →

Eugenic Sperm

In 1974, a Los Angeles Times staff writer interviewed Dr. Donald Adler, a Beverly Hills gynecologist who ran a sperm bank out of his private practice.1 Adler described for the interviewer his process of selecting sperm donors for health and intelligence, and in turn the interviewer asked him whether he considered his practice eugenic. Adler,… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re Expecting in the Nineteenth-Century U.S.

Type “pregnancy” into any internet search engine today, and you’ll literally get a billion results. This plethora of information at our fingertips feels quite modern, and yet it has a long history: American women have long turned to the printed word for advice about their reproductive bodies. In the nineteenth century, there were many competing… Read more →

Over-the-Counter Anxiety: Selling the Home Pregnancy Test

Walk through the aisles of any American drugstore, and you’ll eventually encounter the home pregnancy test section. Because of the ease, convenience, and relative affordability of these tests, the majority of Americans now find out they’re pregnant in the privacy of their own bathrooms. The home pregnancy test is undoubtedly a success story. You can… Read more →

The Eugenicists on Abortion

Clarence Thomas recently issued a twenty-page opinion on the Supreme Court decision Box v. Planned Parenthood that went viral because he drew on Margaret Sanger, founder of the first birth control clinic in the U.S., and her connection to eugenics in order to argue that abortion is and historically has been a tool to control… Read more →