Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America / Edition 1

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After World War II, U.S. policy experts—convinced that unchecked population growth threatened global disaster—successfully lobbied bipartisan policy-makers in Washington to initiate federally-funded family planning. In Intended Consequences, Donald T. Critchlow deftly chronicles how the government's involvement in contraception and abortion evolved into one of the most bitter, partisan controversies in American political history.
The growth of the feminist movement in the late 1960s fundamentally altered the debate over the federal family planning movement, shifting its focus from population control directed by established interests in the philanthropic community to highly polarized pro-abortion and anti-abortion groups mobilized at the grass-roots level. And when the Supreme Court granted women the Constitutional right to legal abortion in 1973, what began as a bi-partisan, quiet revolution during the administrations of Kennedy and Johnson exploded into a contentious argument over sexuality, welfare, the role of women, and the breakdown of traditional family values. Intended Consequences encompasses over four decades of political history, examining everything from the aftermath of the Republican "moral revolution" during the Reagan and Bush years to the current culture wars concerning unwed motherhood, homosexuality, and the further protection of women's abortion rights. Critchlow's carefully balanced appraisal of federal birth control and abortion policy reveals that despite the controversy, the family planning movement has indeed accomplished much in the way of its intended goal—the reduction of population growth in many parts of the world.
Written with authority, fresh insight, and impeccable research, Intended Consequences skillfully unfolds the history of how the federal government found its way into the private bedrooms of the American family.

"...a comprehensive look into the debate over birth control and abortion in America, both before and after the Pill and Roe vs. Wade."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is policy history at its best. With an eye for both telling detail and larger cultural trends, Critchlow demonstrates the value of careful, impartial historical research on a subject filled with partisan assertion and misinformation. For anyone seeking a historically grounded understanding of the federal government's role in family planning, this is the place to begin."—Hugh Heclo, George Mason University

"This is policy history at its best. With an eye for both telling detail and larger cultural trends, Prof. Critchlow demonstrates the value of careful, impartial historical research on a subject filled with partisan assertion and misinformation. For anyone seeking a historically grounded understanding of the Federal government's role in family planning, this is the place to begin."—Hugh Heclo, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, George Mason University

"Intended Consequences provides a superb account of the evolution of federal policy on population issues, family planning, and abortion. Based on prodigious research in little used sources, it illuminates the interaction of philanthropic foundations and popular pressure groups in shaping policy. The themes are controversial, but Critchlow's tone is moderate, his insights shrewd, and his judgements balanced. A work of permanent value." —J. Philip Gleason, Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"Nothing puzzles foreign observers of American politics more than the centrality of conflict over public policy on abortion. That conflict appears multifaceted, passionate, recurrent—and out of all proportion to policy impact. Don Critchlow provides a firmly rooted and richly textured picture of its emergence, sufficient to convert the puzzle into an explanation. It is a story where many consequences were not intended, but Intended Consequences proves to be a diagnostic example of what policy history should be." —Bryon E. Shafer, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of American Government, Oxford University

"This useful survey of an important topic is appropriate for both public and academic libraries."—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195145939
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/10/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

The author and editor of nine books, including The Politics of Abortion and Birth Control in Historical Perspective (1996) and most recently, With Us Always: Private Charity and Public Welfare (1998), Donald T. Critchlow is founding editor of The Journal of Policy History, has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., and has taught at Hong Kong University and Warsaw University.

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