The Selling of Contraception: The Dalkon Shield Case, Sexuality, and Women's Autonomy

Overview

In this brutal indictment of the birth control industry, Nicole J. Grant documents the history of the Dalkon Shield case and places the controversy within a larger historical and social context, examining the ways in which social conditions affect women's choices about contraception. Drawing upon an analysis of thirty years' worth of articles in medical journals and popular magazines, family planning literature, medical texts, government documents, and transcripts from interviews with women discussing procreative...
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Overview

In this brutal indictment of the birth control industry, Nicole J. Grant documents the history of the Dalkon Shield case and places the controversy within a larger historical and social context, examining the ways in which social conditions affect women's choices about contraception. Drawing upon an analysis of thirty years' worth of articles in medical journals and popular magazines, family planning literature, medical texts, government documents, and transcripts from interviews with women discussing procreative choices, Grant examines the IUD's place in the history of contraception and the politics of bringing the Dalkon Shield to the market, including the commercial bias of the device's inventor and chief medical consultant. She discusses the dissemination of false and misleading advertising about the device, the manufacturer's disregard of evidence suggesting that it was unsafe, and the stake of various family planning agencies in promoting its use. She goes on to examine the social conditions under which women chose to use the Dalkon Shield and considers the fact that many women, wishing to exercise control over procreation, freely selected it over alternative forms of contraception, even though they knew there were associated risks. According to Grant, the Dalkon Shield case is not a historical anomaly. Today, advances in technology are making new methods of contraception available to women, but these methods carry risks as serious as those associated with the Dalkon Shield. Moreover, the social context in which women are making decisions about contraception is much the same as it was during the time when the Dalkon Shield was widely used. Grant concludes her study by proposing ways in which women can enhance their informed risk/benefit analysis of all options while maintaining their autonomy.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``It's not a matter of being an informed consumer; it's a matter of being a cynic to save your life,'' comments one of the women here who used the Dalkon Shield, the intrauterine contraceptive device that killed, maimed, made infertile or simply sickened women in the U.S. and around the world during the 1970s and early 1980s. In this riveting, comprehensive study, Grant, who teaches sociology at Ball State University in Indiana, explores how the Dalkon Shield and other contraceptives were irresponsibly promoted by profit-seeking physicians, drug companies and population control groups. She finds that independent, educated women were among the victims, taken in as they attempted to wrest control of their procreative destiny from men. They endured their progressive torment, entranced by the words ``safe and effective'' and assured by their doctors that the pain would go away. Reviewing the thought of such prominent feminist thinkers as Barbara Ehrenreich and Andrea Dworkin, Grant calls for the displacement of coitus as the sine qua non of sexual experience to reduce the chronic need for medical contraception. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814206157
  • Publisher: Ohio State University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1993
  • Series: Women and Health Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 223

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Birth Control and the Health Care System 9
2 The Dalkon Shield Story 37
3 Class, Race, and Country 70
4 Gender and Sexuality 99
5 New Products, Old Problems 140
6 Trading Risks 151
Epilogue 169
Notes 173
Bibliography 187
Index 219
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