Tag: birth control

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 →

Making Medical History: The Sociologist Who Helped Legalize Birth Control

When sociology and economics professor Norman E. Himes published The Medical History of Contraception in 1936, he had made a daring, yet tactical move. At the time, contraception was not, legally speaking, considered a medical matter at all. Under the Comstock Act, which had been in effect since 1873, all literature and devices used for… Read more →

The Women’s Health Movement and the Dream of the Diaphragm

Half a century after the emergence of the women’s liberation movement, “the pill” remains ingrained in the iconography of second-wave feminism. Although the drug now comes in a sleek blister pack, the image of a retro Dialpak remains an aesthetic touchstone—a symbol of bodily autonomy now emblazoned on enamel pins, earrings, and rubber stamps. It… Read more →

At Your Service: The Role of the Historian in Contemporary Reproductive Rights Debates

A new wave of frenetic reproductive puritanism appears to be sweeping the globe. From Trump’s global gag, which has widely been heralded as a “devastating blow for women’s rights,” to the rollback of access to legal abortion in countries such as Chile, reproductive politics are defining administrative agendas. But in lamenting the state of current… Read more →

Don’t Bring that Anti-Choice Nonsense to the #MeToo Movement, Peggy Noonan

There have been any number of smart, critical takes on the #MeToo movement and the wave of sexual harassment allegations against famous and powerful men that have rocked the country in recent weeks. Lindy West, Caitlin Flanagan, Roxane Gay and numerous others have offered some great commentary on how we might process this cultural moment… Read more →

Mothers’ Natures: Sex, Love, and Degeneration in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Every so often, some viral article or other will declare that science “proves” or “confirms” that intelligence is inherited from mothers. (I know, because my own mother will promptly share it on Facebook.) Swiftly, of course, revisionary articles will appear correcting or debunking this claim, chastising armchair geneticists for their overly-simplistic understandings of the X-chromosome…. Read more →

“A Basic Issue of Women’s Liberation”: The Feminist Campaign to Legalize Contraception in 1970s Ireland

On May 22, 1971, forty-seven members of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement (IWLM) boarded the 8am train from Dublin to Belfast. Their aim was to purchase contraceptives in the north, where contraception was legal under UK law, and to travel back to Dublin with them in order to highlight the hypocrisy of Irish law, which… Read more →

The Black Politics of Eugenics

Eugenics is still a dirty word. It makes us think about science gone horribly wrong. It reminds us of the ghosts of Nazis past. The specter of eugenics is invoked when discussing new genetic technologies, often serving as a warning that engineering humanity can go too far. It wasn’t always like this. For much of… Read more →

Mail-Order Abortion: A History (and a Future?)

In early November of 2016, while the upcoming election dominated media in all its forms, a number of news outlets took note of a study being conducted by abortion providers in New York, Washington, Hawaii, and Oregon on the safety and practicality of providing abortions by mail. The methods of the Telemedicine Abortion Study, which… Read more →

Inclusive Health Services for Women: More than Just Tote Bags

In Silver City, New Mexico, a small print company has raised over seventy thousand dollars for Planned Parenthood through a simple tote bag. PP services are printed on the tote, in a list so long, it barely fits on the bag. Power and Light Press sell these bags “in the name of Planned Parenthood [as]… Read more →