Communists and Uteruses: How the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China Sought to Control Women’s Reproduction
There is something fascinating about the history of reproductive rights, contraception, and abortion in every country and ideology that we’ve looked at in our women’s reproductive rights series. This week we’re turning to the impact of Communism on these issues, particularly in China and the Soviet Union. Here we have the complete range of reproductive control extremes – from hyper pro-natalist policies and criminalization of birth control and abortion in both China and the USSR; to the Soviet Union’s provision and regulation of abortion while simultaneously paying for extensive maternal support programming; to China’s one child policy, which included forced abortion and sterilization in an attempt to get control over an overpopulation problem. Averill and Marissa discuss all of these nuances and more in this episode on the impact of Communism on uteruses.
Show Notes & Further Reading
Tomas Frejka, “Induced Abortion and Fertility,” Family Planning Perspectives v17 n5 (Guttmacher Institute, 1985) 230-234
Paula Michaels, “Motherhood, Patriotism, and Ethnicity: Soviet Kazakhstan and the 1936 Abortion Ban,” Feminist Studies 27, n2 (Summer 2001)
Yuliya Hilevych, “Abortion and Gender Relationships in Ukraine, 1955-70,” The History of the Family 20.1 (2015) 86-105
David M. Heer, “Abortion, Contraception, and Population Policy in the Soviet Union,” Demography, 2 (1965) 531-39
Jill M. Bystydzienski, “Women and Socialism: A Comparative Study of Women in Poland and the USSR,” Signs 14.3 (Spring 1989)
Scharping, Thomas. Birth Control in China 1949-2000: Population Policy and Demographic Development. Routledge, 2013.
Hemminki E, Z Wu, G Cao, and K Viisainen. 2005. “Illegal Births and Legal Abortions–the Case of China”. Reproductive Health. 2.
Nie, Jing-Bao, and Arthur Kleinman. Behind the Silence: Chinese Voices on Abortion. Lanham, Maryland [etc.]: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
Feature image: “Glory to the Mother-Heroine!” 1944 propaganda poster on a Soviet mother’s duty to the state. (Boston University) & Carry out family planning, implement the basic national policy – 1986 poster of a painting by Zhou Yuwei. (SBS)