Monthly Archives: February 2017

Fascism and Uteruses


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There are some fascinating parallels between the deployment of eugenic policies around reproduction and women’s bodies in twentieth-century Germany and Japan. In this episode, the fourth in the HBP’s work on reproductive rights and fights in history (from the US to the world). Marissa and Averill tackle eugenics, Nazis, legalized abortion and illegal hormonal birth control, marriage counseling, and more. It’s a story of governments trying to dictate how women can or cannot use their uteruses. Enjoy?


Show Notes & Further Reading

Anita Grossman, Reforming Sex (Oxford University Press, 1995)

Volker Roelcke, Sascha Topp, and Etienne Lepicard, eds., Silence, Scapegoats, Self-Reflection: The Shadow of Nazi Medical Crimes on Medicine and Bioethics (Göttingen: V&r Unipress, 2015).

Dagmar Herzog, Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in 20th Century Germany (Princeton University Press: Princeton; 2007).

Mark Roseman, Devin Pendas, and Richard F. Wetzell, Beyond the Racial State (Indiana University Press: Bloomington, IN; 2008).

Christiana A. E. Norgren, Abortion Before Birth Control: The Politics of Reproduction in Postwar Japan (Newark: Princeton University Press, 2001).

Samuel Coleman, Family Planning in Japanese Society: Traditional Birth Control in a Modern Urban Culture (Princeton University Press, 1992)

Takeda Hiroko, The Political Economy of Reproduction in Japan (Routledge, Sep 23, 2004)

Abortion and Birth Control before Roe v. Wade

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At the Women’s Marches across the U.S. on January 21st, there were hundreds–maybe thousands–of women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who held up signs that conveyed their frustration with still needing to fight for rights like birth control and abortion. This is a battle that has waged for so, so long. On this episode, Sarah and Elizabeth look back at the late 19th and early 20th century struggle for women’s rights. After our country finally granted women the right to vote in 1920, the emphasis of the women’s rights movement shifted to focus on another issue: access to methods of family limitation.



Show Notes & Further Reading

Jean H. Baker, Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011).

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction (Random House Vintage Books Edition, 1980).

Linda Gordon, The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America (Chicago, 2002)

Regina Morantz-Sanchez, Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn of the Century Brooklyn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Diane Sands, “Using Oral History to Chart the Course of Illegal Abortion in Montana,” Frontiers: A Study of Women’s History, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1983)

Huddled Masses: Unwanted Immigrants in the Americas

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America prides itself on being a country of immigrants – after all, everyone in the United States is the descendant of an immigrant, whether forced and free, unless they are Native American. Americans believe that we offer a place of welcome so much that we emblazoned it onto the Statues of Liberty in the form of Emma Lazarus’s poem, The New Colossus, with those famous lines about the poor, tired, and huddled masses. But like most things in history, the real story is a lot more complicated. Join Averill, Marissa, and Sarah as they talk about the history of those who were turned away at the gates.

Show Notes & Further Reading: 

Baynton, Douglas. Defectives in the Land: Disability and Immigration in the Age of Eugenics. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Canaday, Margot. The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Canaday, Margot. “”Who is a Homosexual?”: The Consolidation of Sexual Identities in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Immigration Law.” Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003., pp. 351-386. 

Leavitt, Judith Walzer. Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.

Turner, Adam. “Paranoia on the Border: Immigration and Public Health.” Nursing Clio, July 2014.

Early American Family Limitation

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Birth control and abortion are constant flash points in contemporary politics, and they’re often described as signs of a rapidly changing society. But women have always had ways (though not always quite as effective ones) to control family size, and early American women were no exception. Understanding the role that reproductive rights has played in American history provides critical context to today’s debates. Have we always had these kinds of debates? How did Americans think about abortion in the late 18th century, or the 19th century? In this episode, Elizabeth and Sarah start a three part conversation about women’s reproductive rights in United States history by talking about birth control methods and abortion in the 18th and 19th century.

Show Notes & Further Reading 

Dayton, Cornelia Hughes. Women before the Bar : Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

Duden, Barbara.  The Woman beneath the Skin : A Doctor’s Patients in Eighteenth-Century Germany (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991).

Gordon, Linda. The Moral Property of Women : A History of Birth Control Politics in America. 3rd edn (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002).

Klepp, Susan E.  Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 (Chapel Hill, 2009).

Mohr, James C.  Abortion in America : The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (New York: Vintage Books, 1991).

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