Tag Archives: history of childhood

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.

 

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David M. Heer, “Abortion, Contraception, and Population Policy in the Soviet Union,” Demography, 2 (1965) 531-39

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Paula Michaels, “Motherhood, Patriotism, and Ethnicity: Soviet Kazakhstan and the 1936 Abortion Ban,” Feminist Studies 27, n2 (Summer 2001)

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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)

Science, Reform, and Anti-Vivisection

Things have been pretty political around here lately, so we wanted to dig into something that’s just fascinating and, frankly, creepy: anti-vivisection, or the 19th century campaign to end scientific and medical experimentation on living animals. Join Averill and Sarah as they talk about the practice of vivisection and the efforts to stop it. Also, a word of warning: we use some nineteenth century language when reading quotes, and also describe some pretty graphic events. You might want to turn it down if you’re sensitive or listening with kids.

Sources & Further Reading 

A History of Anti-vivsection from 1800s to the Present: Part I (1800-1914).

Dissecting the Living: Vivisection in Early Modern England,” Chirurgeon’s Apprentice

Davis, Janet M. “The History of Animal Protection in the United States.” The American Historian. 

Johnson, Eric. “Charles Darwin and Vivisection Outrage,” Scientific American, October 6, 2011.

Frances Power Cobbe.

Markel, Howard. “Case Shined First Light on Abuse of Children,” New York Times, December 14, 2009.

McCurry, Justin. “Japan Revisits its darkest moments where American POWs became human experiments,” The Guardian, August 13, 2015.

McNeill, Leila. “Women, Animals, and the Poetry of Activism,” Nursing Clio. 

Prosecution at Norwich: Experiment on Animals,” The British Medical Journal, December 12, 1874.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

Renaissance Anatomy.

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)

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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Family Limitation in the Pre-Modern World

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In the wake of the Global Gag Rule that the U.S. President just issued in his first week in office, there is really no better time to start talking about the history of family limitation in all of its iterations across time and space – from various contraceptives invented by the ancient Egyptians to the many herbal remedies employed by midwives and women generally to “restore the menses” to a broader discussion of when and where states have attempted to control the reproductive feature of women’s bodies. This episode is just the first of many more to come addressing these very issues of women’s reproductive health and rights. Join Marissa and Averill as they dive into the wild, weird, and sometimes dangerous methods of family limitation in the pre-modern world.

Show Notes & Further Reading

Edwards,Stassa. “The History of Abortifacients.” Jezebel. 18 Nov 2014.

Biddlecom, Ann E. “Family Planning, Abortion, and Reproductive Health.” The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ritzer, George (ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Brick, P. 2003. “The Encyclopedia of Birth Control, Edited by Vern L. Bullough”. JOURNAL OF SEX RESEARCH. 40: 315.

Hardacre, Helen. Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 1999.

Hoffer, Peter Charles, and N. E. H. Hull. Murdering Mothers: Infanticide in England and New England, 1558-1803. New York: New York University Press, 1984.

James, Peter, and I. J. Thorpe. Ancient Inventions. 1994.

Poston, Dudley L. Fertility, Family Planning, and Population Policy in China. London: Routledge, 2006.

Riddle, John M. Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance. 1992.

Unschuld, Paul, and Jinsheng Zheng. Chinese Traditional Healing (3 Vols.) The Berlin Collections of Manuscript Volumes from the 16th Through the Early 20th Century. Leiden: BRILL, 2012

Wiesner, Merry E. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Zheng, Tiantian. Ethnographies of Prostitution in Contemporary China: Gender Relations, HIV/AIDS, and Nationalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

Immunizations and Anti-Vax Movements

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Vaccination has been a controversial subject and we tend to think that this is a new phenomenon. Proponents of vaccination blame anti-vax parents for the recent cropping-up of preventable (and formerly eliminated) diseases such as the NYC measles outbreak in 2014, and the return of Pertussis in 2015. While parents who oppose vaccination or those who believe in vaccine choice are suspicious of the CDC’s rigorous vaccine schedule, “Big Pharma,” and the possibility of vaccine injury due to questionable ingredients. But this is NOT new. Debate and conflict have existed around the use and efficacy of immunizations since the practice first came into use. This episode considers the history of immunization and its opponents.

Show Notes and Further Reading:

Arthur Boylston, “The Origins of Inoculation,” Journal of the Royal Society of MedicineJuly 2012

Daniel R. Bronfin, Childhood Immunization Controversies: What are Parents Asking?”, The Ochsner Journal, Fall 2008

Carole Emberton, “The Minister of Death,” The New York Times Opinionator BlogAugust 17, 2012

Amy Lynn Filsinger & Raymond Dwek,George Washington and the First Mass Military Inoculation,” The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

“History of Anti-Vaccination Movements,” The History of VaccinesJanuary 25, 2016

Humphries, Margaret. The Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2013).

Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, “Vaccinations Have Always Been Controversial in America,” Time Magazine, July 31, 2015

Robert Middlekauff, The Mathers: Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals, 1596-1728. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Terry Reimer, “Smallpox and Vaccination in the Civil War,” The National Museum of Civil War Medicine November 9, 2004

Stefan Riedel, “Edward Jenner and the History of Smallpox and Vaccination,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings January 2005

Mariana Zapata, “How Civil Wars Gave Themselves Syphilis While Trying to Avoid Smallpox,” Atlas ObscuraNovember 30, 2016.


Featured image: An 1802 illustration depicts Edward Jenner vaccinating a young woman. (National Museum of Medicine)

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