Tag: Abortion

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 →

The Anti-Abortion Politics of White Women

Last month, the Alabama State Senate passed a piece of legislation effectively banning abortion in the state of Alabama. House Bill 314, which prohibits abortion even in cases of rape and incest, comes on the heels of Georgia House Bill 481, which prohibits abortions in cases where a fetal heartbeat is detectable—six weeks into a… Read more →

Between the Pages: Victorian Women’s Letters to H. Lenox Hodge

This essay was first published at Fugitive Leaves, the blog of The History Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Cracking open the accordion-notebook of Dr. Hugh Lenox Hodge at The History Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, I read from the top, thumb and index finger poised delicately at… Read more →

“Our Moral Obligation:” The Pastors That Counseled in Pre-Roe South Carolina

On December 8, 1971, a Presbyterian pastor in Greenville, SC counseled three women on their “problem pregnancies,” ultimately connecting them with clinical abortion providers. The first woman was a white, 21-year-old university student. Her relationship with her boyfriend had ended that October, and she believed abortion was, to use her words, a “last ditch contraception.”… Read more →

Murder and Motherhood in 1950s Ireland: The Trial of Abortionist Mamie Cadden

On the evening of April 17, 1956, thirty-three-year-old Helen O. visited nurse Mamie Cadden at 17 Hume Street, Dublin, for what she likely thought would be a routine, if illegal, abortion.1 Helen O.’s death after the attempted abortion provoked a national controversy that complicated dominant constructions of motherhood and domesticity in mid-twentieth-century Ireland. In the… Read more →

The (Historical) Body in Pain

For the last decade, I’ve been reading and writing about other women’s pain. Contractions lasting 72 hours. Feverish deliriums after a punctured uterus. A woman beaten with a tree branch. I study the history of gender and medicine, and my book manuscript examines the parallel processes of the medicalization of childbirth and the criminalization of… Read more →

Repositioning the Family and the Household in a Global History of Abortion: The Case of Early-Twentieth-Century China

In May, NC editor Cassia Roth and Diana Paton organized the Intimate Politics: Fertility Control in a Global Historical Perspective conference at the University of Edinburgh. The conference explored reproduction, gender, and race from the perspective of multiple time periods, geographic locations, actors, and methods. Scholars from Europe, the United States, South Africa, Turkey, and… Read more →

A Referendum – and A Path Toward Reproductive Justice for Ireland?

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will vote on a referendum on May 25, 2018 to potentially overturn the state’s notoriously harsh anti-abortion laws.1 This moment is being characterized as a defining one, a  watershed moment for a state that Amnesty International and the United Nations have chastised for its misogynistic, anti-feminist policies. Indeed, for… Read more →

Joan Scott, Liberalism, and Abortion Rights

Recently, the University of Edinburgh awarded Joan Scott an honorary doctorate in social science. The hooding ceremony seemed more like a Catholic wedding than an intellectual honor — replete with scepters, somber music, and long robes (the British do like their hierarchy). I attended, of course, not for the solemn ceremony, but for the lecture… Read more →

“No-Tell Motels”: Abortion in Pre-Roe South Carolina

“Charleston was the place to come before Roe v. Wade, for abortions.” Reminiscing about illegal abortion in South Carolina in the 1960s and early 1970s, this woman in her 60s, an oral history narrator, highlighted the roles of “backstreet” abortion networks in Charleston. She also told a story about a college friend who needed an… Read more →