Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America / Edition 1

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"A chronicle of women's battles for reproductive freedom throughout American history, Pregnancy and Power explores the many forces - social, racial, economic, and political - that have shaped women's reproductive lives in the United States." Leading historian Rickie Solinger argues that a woman's control over her body involves much more than the right to choose an abortion. Reproductive politics were at play when slaveholders devised breeding schemes, when the U.S. government took Indian children from their families in the nineteenth century, and when doctors pressed Latina women to be sterilized in the 1970s. Pregnancy and Power is filled with powerful accounts of the fights women have waged in this country to control their bodies and their destinies against anti-miscegenation laws, labor laws, anti-contraception laws, and recent welfare reform laws that punish poor women for having children.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This succinct, highly readable political and cultural history of a wide range of reproductive issues is a near-perfect primer on the topic. Independent historian Solinger (Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade) writes from a broad, multi-issue, feminist perspective, placing the struggle for reproductive freedom at the center of a variety of political battles. This approach yields unique new insights. Detailing antimiscegenation laws and common assumptions about family life and reproduction in Chinese-American communities, Solinger shows how immigration laws favoring Chinese merchant-class women over poor women "shaped the demographics of Chinatowns around the country." Similarly, she discusses how the relationship between civil rights and reproductive rights in the 1960s gave different cultural meanings to the "fertile body of women of color" in the eyes of the white establishment and within the African-American community. Solinger succeeds in moving the discussion of the social and legal politics of reproduction out of a confining category of "women's issues" and into the broader sphere of U.S. history and national politics, and her study will be helpful to anyone interested in how current debates about abortion, the morning-after pill and sex education were historically formed. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Readers will find within this book a deeply researched and fine analysis of reproductive politics spanning 250 years. It definitely should be of interest to legal scholars and law students and also to political and social historians.”
-The American Journal of Legal History

“The book is well documented and well written... I expect this book to find a place in many classrooms.”
-The Journal of American History

"This succinct, highly readable political and cultural history of a wide range of reproductive issues is a near-perfect primer on the topic."

-Publishers Weekly

"A concise historical overview. . . . Based primarily on a vast array of well-documented secondary sources, this book is a well-written and useful overview of the politics behind pregnancy in the U.S. . . . Highly recommended."


"Solinger is impressively optimistic about America's potential not only to evolve into 'a country of reproductive justice,' but also to overcome centuries of the sex, race, and class prejudice that have literally built our society."


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814798287
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,279,574
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Rickie Solinger is an independent historian who lives in the Hudson Valley. Her books include Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade, The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law, and Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : what is reproductive politics? 1
1 Racializing the nation : from the Declaration of Independence to the Emancipation Proclamation, 1776-1865 27
2 Sex in the city : from secrecy to anonymity to privacy, 1870s to 1920s 63
3 No extras : curbing fertility during the Great Depression 103
4 Central planning : managing fertility, race, and rights in postwar America, 1940s to 1960 131
5 The human rights era : the rise of choice, the contours of backlash, 1960-1980 163
6 Revitalizing hierarchies : how the aftermath of Roe v. Wade affected fetuses, teenage girls, prisoners, and ordinary women, 1980 to the present 209
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