The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America

The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America

by Linda Gordon

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The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America by Linda Gordon

Choice Magazine's Outstanding Academic Books for 2004The only book to cover the entire history of birth control and the intense controversies about reproduction rights that have raged in the United States for more than 150 years, The Moral Property of Women is a thoroughly updated and revised version of the award-winning historian Linda Gordon's classic history Woman's Body, Woman's Right, originally published in 1976.Arguing that reproduction control has always been central to women's status, The Moral Property of Women shows how opposition to it has long been part of the conservative opposition to gender equality. From its roots in folk medicine and in a campaign so broad it constituted a grassroots social movement at some points in history, to its legitimization through public policy, the widespread acceptance of birth control has involved a major reorientation of sexual values.

Gordon puts today's reproduction control controversies--foreign aid for family planning, the abortion debates, teenage pregnancy and childbearing, stem-cell research--into historical perspective and shows how the campaign to legalize abortion is part of a 150-year-old struggle over reproductive rights, a struggle that has followed a circuitous path. Beginning with the "folk medicine" of birth control, Gordon discusses how the backlash against the first women's rights movement of the 1800s prohibited both abortion and contraception about 130 years ago. She traces the campaign for legal reproduction control from the 1870s to the present and argues that attitudes toward birth control have been inseparable from family values, especially standards about sexuality and gender equality.

Highlighting both leaders and followers in the struggle, The Moral Property of Women chronicles the contributions of well-known reproduction control pioneers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, and Emma Goldman, as well as lesser- known campaigners including the utopian socialist Robert Dale Owen, the three doctors Foote--Edward Bliss Foote, Edward Bond Foote, and Mary Bond Foote--the civil libertarian Mary Ware Dennett, and the daring Jane project of the 1970s, in which Chicago women's liberation activists performed illegal abortions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252095276
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 09/15/2002
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Linda Gordon, a professor of history at New York University, is the author of numerous books, including Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890-1935, and The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, which won the Bancroft Prize and the Beveridge Prize.

Table of Contents

Preface     vii
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: Birth Control, the Moral Property of Women     1
From Folk Medicine to Prohibition to Resistance
The Prehistory of Birth Control     7
The Criminals     22
Prudent Sex     38
Birth Control and Women's Rights
Voluntary Motherhood     55
Social Purity and Eugenics     72
Race Suicide     86
Continence or Indulgence     105
Birth Control and Social Revolution     125
From Women's Rights to Family Planning
Professionalization     171
Depression     211
Planned Parenthood     242
Birth Control Becomes Public Policy     279
Birth Control in the Era of Second-Wave Feminism
Abortion, the Mother Controversy     295
Is Nothing Simple about Reproduction Control?     321
Conclusion: Birth Control and Feminism     357
Selected Recent Scholarship on the History of Reproduction Control     365
Notes     367
Index     431

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