Beyond the Numbers presents a thought-provoking series of essays by leading authorities on issues of population and consumption. The essays both define the poles of debate and explore common ground beyond the polarized rhetoric.
Specific chapters consider each of the broad topics addressed at the International Conference on Population and Development held in September 1994 in Cairo, Egypt. The essays are supplemented by sidebars and short articles featuring more-impassioned voices that highlight issues of interest not fully explored in the overviews.
As well as providing a sense of the difficulties involved in dealing with these issues, the essays make clear that constructive action is possible.
Topics covered include:
Current accounts of China’s global rise emphasize economics and politics, largely neglecting the cultivation of China’s people. Susan Greenhalgh, one of the foremost authorities on China’s one-child policy, places the governance of population squarely at the heart of China’s ascent.
Focusing on the decade since 2000, and especially 2004–09, she argues that the vital politics of population has been central to the globalizing agenda of the reform state. By helping transform China’s rural masses into modern workers and citizens, by working to strengthen, techno-scientize, and legitimize the PRC regime, and by boosting China’s economic development and comprehensive national power, the governance of the population has been critically important to the rise of global China.
After decades of viewing population as a hindrance to modernization, China’s leaders are now equating it with human capital and redefining it as a positive factor in the nation’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. In encouraging “human development,” the regime is trying to induce people to become self-governing, self-enterprising persons who will advance their own health, education, and welfare for the benefit of the nation. From an object of coercive restriction by the state, population is being refigured as a field of self-cultivation by China’s people themselves.
A pioneer in the birth control movement both in the United States and abroad, Dr. Clarence J. Gamble began his work as a volunteer in Philadelphia in 1929. Because he was convinced that the health and happiness of women and children and, in fact, entire families depended on adequate spacing of their babies, he helped to establish family planning clinics in a dozen American cities before he was forty years old.
Dr. Gamble's major concern was to provide a safe, reliable, and cheap contraceptive that poor women who had no access to running water or modern conveniences could use. After World War II and the population explosion that followed it, Dr. Gamble expanded his efforts in what he called the Great Cause to help those in the developing nations who wanted their people to be able to choose when to have children and how many to have.
Every Child a Wanted Child is more than the biography of a unique man. It is a record of the ups and downs of the birth control movement in the United States and in Italy, Japan, India, and parts of Asia and Africa.
In Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance, John M. Riddle showed, through extraordinary scholarly sleuthing, that women from ancient Egyptian times to the fifteenth century had relied on an extensive pharmacopoeia of herbal abortifacients and contraceptives to regulate fertility. In Eve’s Herbs, Riddle explores a new question: If women once had access to effective means of birth control, why was this knowledge lost to them in modern times?
Beginning with the testimony of a young woman brought before the Inquisition in France in 1320, Riddle asks what women knew about regulating fertility with herbs and shows how the new intellectual, religious, and legal climate of the early modern period tended to cast suspicion on women who employed “secret knowledge” to terminate or prevent pregnancy. Knowledge of the menstrual-regulating qualities of rue, pennyroyal, and other herbs was widespread through succeeding centuries among herbalists, apothecaries, doctors, and laywomen themselves, even as theologians and legal scholars began advancing the idea that the fetus was fully human from the moment of conception.
Drawing on previously unavailable material, Riddle reaches a startling conclusion: while it did not persist in a form that was available to most women, ancient knowledge about herbs was not lost in modern times but survived in coded form. Persecuted as “witchcraft” in centuries past and prosecuted as a crime in our own time, the control of fertility by “Eve’s herbs” has been practiced by Western women since ancient times.
Fatal Misconception is the disturbing story of our quest to remake humanity by policing national borders and breeding better people. As the population of the world doubled once, and then again, well-meaning people concluded that only population control could preserve the “quality of life.” This movement eventually spanned the globe and carried out a series of astonishing experiments, from banning Asian immigration to paying poor people to be sterilized.
Supported by affluent countries, foundations, and non-governmental organizations, the population control movement experimented with ways to limit population growth. But it had to contend with the Catholic Church’s ban on contraception and nationalist leaders who warned of “race suicide.” The ensuing struggle caused untold suffering for those caught in the middle—particularly women and children. It culminated in the horrors of sterilization camps in India and the one-child policy in China.
Matthew Connelly offers the first global history of a movement that changed how people regard their children and ultimately the face of humankind. It was the most ambitious social engineering project of the twentieth century, one that continues to alarm the global community. Though promoted as a way to lift people out of poverty—perhaps even to save the earth—family planning became a means to plan other people‘s families.
With its transnational scope and exhaustive research into such archives as Planned Parenthood and the newly opened Vatican Secret Archives, Connelly’s withering critique uncovers the cost inflicted by a humanitarian movement gone terribly awry and urges renewed commitment to the reproductive rights of all people.
During the first half of the twentieth century, sterilization (tubal ligation and vasectomy) was a tool of eugenics. Individuals who endorsed crude notions of biological determinism sought to control the reproductive decisions of women they considered "unfit" by nature of race or class, and used surgery to do so. Incorporating first-person narratives, court cases, and official records, Rebecca M. Kluchin examines the evolution of forced sterilization of poor women, especially women of color, in the second half of the century and contrasts it with demands for contraceptive sterilization made by white women and men. She chronicles public acceptance during an era of reproductive and sexual freedom, and the subsequent replacement of the eugenics movement with "neo-eugenic" standards that continued to influence American medical practice, family planning, public policy, and popular sentiment.
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.
Since 2006, when the “morning-after pill” Plan B was first sold over the counter, sales of emergency contraceptives have soared, becoming an $80-million industry in the United States and throughout the Western world. But emergency contraception is nothing new. It has a long and often contentious history as the subject of clashes not only between medical researchers and religious groups, but also between different factions of feminist health advocates.
The Morning After tells the story of emergency contraception in America from the 1960s to the present day and, more importantly, it tells the story of the women who have used it. Side-stepping simplistic readings of these women as either radical feminist trailblazers or guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical industry, medical historian Heather Munro Prescott offers a portrait of how ordinary women participated in the development and popularization of emergency contraception, bringing a groundbreaking technology into the mainstream with the potential to alter radically reproductive health practices.
This book presents evidence about historical and contemporary Chinese population behavior that overturns much of the received wisdom about the differences between China and the West first voiced by Malthus. Malthus described a China in which early and universal marriage ensured high fertility and therefore high mortality. He contrasted this with Western Europe, where marriage occurred late and was far from universal, resulting in lower fertility and higher demographic responsiveness to economic circumstances. The result in China was thought to be mass misery as part of the population teetered on the brink of a Malthusian precipice, whereas in the West conditions were less severe.
In reality, James Lee and Wang Feng argue, there has been effective regulation of population growth in China through a variety of practices that depressed marital fertility to levels far below European standards, and through the widespread practices of infanticide and abortion. Moreover, in China, population behavior has long been primarily a consequence of collective intervention. This collective culture underlies four distinctive features of the Chinese demographic pattern—high rates of female infanticide, low rates of male marriage, low rates of marital fertility, and high rates of adoption—that Lee and Wang trace from 1700 to today. These and other distinctive features of the Chinese demographic and social system, they argue, led to a different demographic transition in China from the one that took place in the West.
In this ethnographic study, the author examines the policies and practices of family planning programs in Egypt to see how an elitist, Western-informed state attempts to create obliging citizens. The state sees voluntary compliance with the law for the common good as the cornerstone of modernity. Family planning programs are a training ground for the construction of self-disciplined individuals, and thus a rewarding area of study for the fate of social programs in developing countries.
Through a careful examination of state-endorsed family planning practices in urban and rural contexts, the author shows us the pervasive, high-pressure persuasion of women, who are encouraged to think as individual decision makers of their immediate families and their national interests. But what of the other forces at work in these women’s lives, binding them to their extended families and to their religious identities? And what of the laws that allow for polygamy and discriminate against women in marriage, inheritance, and as part of the workforce?
These forces operate against the received wisdom of the state. Is the Muslim community thought to end at the borders of Egypt? What about local constructions of masculinity when the state appeals to wives to decide for themselves? How does widespread labor migration to foreign countries affect attitudes toward family planning? How is female contraception viewed by the Islamic Brotherhood and other modern Muslim groups?
This book questions much that we have taken for granted and gives us grounds for reexamining our assumptions about family planning and the individual and state in developing countries such as Egypt.
The population of Brazil increased tenfold, from 10 to over 100 million, between 1880 and 1980, nearly half of this increase occurring since the end of World War II. The Politics of Population in Brazil examines the attitudes toward population planning of Brazilian government officials and other elites—bishops, politicians, labor leaders, and business owners—in comparison with mass public opinion. The authors' findings that elites seriously underestimate the desire for family planning services, while the public views birth control as a basic issue, represent an important contribution on a timely issue.
A major reason for this disparity is that the elites tend to define the issue as a matter of national power and collective growth, and the public sees it as a bread-and-butter question affecting the daily lives of families. McDonough and DeSouza document not only the real gulf between elite and mass opinion but also the propensity of the elites to exaggerate this gap through their stereotyping of public opinion as conservative and disinterested in family planning.
Despite these differences, the authors demonstrate that population planning is less conflict ridden than many other controversies in Brazilian politics and probably more amenable to piecemeal bargaining than some earlier studies suggest. In part, this is because attitudes on the issue are not closely identified with opinions regarding left-versus-right disputes. In addition, for the public in general, religious sentiment affects attitudes toward family planning only indirectly. This separation, which reflects the historical lack of penetration of Brazilian society on the part of the church, further attenuates the issue's potential for galvanizing deep-seated antagonisms. As the authors note, this situation stands in contrast to the fierce debates that moral issues have generated in Spain and Ireland.
The study is noteworthy not only for its original approach—the incorporation of mass and elite data and the departure from the standard concerns with fertility determinants in population—but also for its sophisticated methodology and lucid presentation.
This volume brings together feminist social and biomedical scholars from the Southern and Northern hemispheres to examine the aggregate forces that affect reproductive choice. Drawing on numerous case studies, this book examines the range of social, economic, and scientific policies which collectively impact on reproductive well being. Power and Decision offers an analysis of how disparate policies, seemingly unrelated to reproduction, are implicitly “pro-natalist” or “anti-natalist.” Moreover, these policies are imbued with gender, race, and class biases. The authors examine the reproductive impact of welfare and parental leave legislation, health services, adoption policies, biomedical research, the global transfer and regulation of reproductive technologies, and international family planning programs.
Offering a rare global feminist critique of social policy, this volume makes explicit the direction of current legislative, economic, and scientific trends, providing a basis for discussion, debate, and possible redress.
Early twentieth-century Arizona was a life-threatening place for new and expectant mothers. Towns were small and very far apart, and the weather and harsh landscape often delayed midwives. It was not uncommon for a woman to give birth without medical care and with the aid of only family members. By the 1920s, Arizona was at the top of the list for the highest number of infant deaths.
Mary Melcher’s Pregnancy, Motherhood, and Choice in Twentieth-Century Arizona provides a deep and diverse history of the dramatic changes in childbirth, birth control, infant mortality, and abortion over the course of the last century. Using oral histories, memoirs, newspaper accounts, government documents, letters, photos, and biographical collections, this fine-grained study of women’s reproductive health places the voices of real women at the forefront of the narrative, providing a personal view into some of the most intense experiences of their lives.
Tackling difficult issues such as disparities in reproductive health care based on race and class, abortion, and birth control, this book seeks to change the way the world looks at women’s health. An essential read for both historians and public health officials, this book reveals that many of the choices and challenges that women once faced remain even today.
Reproductive Restraints traces the history of contraception use and population management in colonial India, while illuminating its connection to contemporary debates in India and birth control movements in Great Britain and the United States. Sanjam Ahluwalia draws attention to the interactive and relational history of Indian birth control by including western activists such as Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes alongside important Indian campaigners. In revealing the elitist politics of middle-class feminists, Indian nationalists, western activists, colonial authorities and the medical establishment, Ahluwalia finds that they all sought to rationalize procreation and regulate women while invoking competing notions of freedom, femininity, and family.
Ahluwalia’s remarkable interviews with practicing midwives in rural northern India fills a gaping void in the documentary history of birth control and shows that the movement has had little appeal to non-elite groups in India. Finding that Jaunpuri women’s reproductive decisions are bound to their emotional, cultural, and economic reliance on family and community, Ahluwalia presents the limitations of universal liberal feminist categories, which often do not consider differences among localized subjects. She argues that elitist birth control efforts failed to account for Indian women’s values and needs and have worked to restrict reproductive rights rather than liberate subaltern Indian women since colonial times.
This volume focuses on Sanger from her groundbreaking overseas advocacy during the interwar years through her postwar role in creating the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The documents reconstruct Sanger's dramatic birth control advocacy tours through early 1920s Germany, Japan, and China in the midst of significant government and religious opposition to her ideas. They also trace her tireless efforts to build a global movement through international conferences and tours. Letters, journal entries, writings, and other records reveal Sanger's contentious dealings with other activists, her correspondence with the likes of Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Sanger's own dramatic evolution from gritty grassroots activist to postwar power broker and diplomat.
A powerful documentary history of a transformative twentieth-century figure, The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 4 is a primer for the debates on individual choice, sex education, and planned parenthood that remain all-too-pertinent in our own time.
In When Sex Changed, Layne Parish Craig analyzes the ways literary texts responded to the political, economic, sexual, and social values put forward by the birth control movements of the 1910s to the 1930s in the United States and Great Britain.
Discussion of contraception and related topics (including feminism, religion, and eugenics) changed the way that writers depicted women, marriage, and family life. Tracing this shift, Craig compares disparate responses to the birth control controversy, from early skepticism by mainstream feminists, reflected in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, to concern about the movement’s race and class implications suggested in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, to enthusiastic speculation about contraception’s political implications, as in Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas.
While these texts emphasized birth control’s potential to transform marriage and family life and emancipate women from the “slavery” of constant childbearing, birth control advocates also used less-than-liberatory language that excluded the poor, the mentally ill, non-whites, and others. Ultimately, Craig argues, the debates that began in these early political and literary texts—texts that document both the birth control movement’s idealism and its exclusionary rhetoric—helped shape the complex legacy of family planning and women’s rights with which the United States and the United Kingdom still struggle.
More than a decade ago, three landmark world conferences placed the human rights of women on the international agenda. The first, in Vienna, officially extended the definition of human rights to include a woman’s right to self-determination and equality. A year later, in Cairo, this concept was elaborated to deal explicitly with issues of sexuality and procreation. Subsequently, at a conference in Beijing, the international community committed to a wide range of practical interventions to advance women’s sexual, social, political, and economic rights.
Despite these accomplishments, we find ourselves at an ever more difficult juncture in the struggle to fully realize women’s rights as human rights. Complications, such as terrorism and the “war” against it, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the incursion of religious fundamentalism into governments, and the U.S. government’s retreat from the international agenda on sexual and reproductive rights have raised questions about the direction of policy implementations and have prevented straightforward progress.
This timely collection brings together eight wide-reaching and provocative essays that examine the practical and theoretical issues of sexual and reproductive health policy and implementation.
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