In the decade after the 1973 Supreme Court decision on abortion, advocates on both sides sought common ground. But as pro-abortion and anti-abortion positions hardened over time into pro-choice and pro-life, the myth was born that Roe v. Wade was a ruling on a woman’s right to choose. Mary Ziegler’s account offers a corrective.
In the mid-1990s, when the United Nations adopted positions affirming a woman's right to be free from bodily harm and to control her own reproductive health, it was both a coup for the international women's rights movement and an instructive moment for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to influence UN decision making.
Prior to the UN General Assembly's 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and the 1994 decision by the UN's Conference on Population and Development to vault women's reproductive rights and health to the forefront of its global population growth management program, there was little consensus among governments as to what constituted violence against women and how much control a woman should have over reproduction. Jutta Joachim tells the story of how, in the years leading up to these decisions, women's organizations got savvy—framing the issues strategically, seizing political opportunities in the international environment, and taking advantage of mobilizing structures—and overcame the cultural opposition of many UN-member states to broadly define the two issues and ultimately cement women's rights as an international cause.
Joachim's deft examination of the documents, proceedings, and actions of the UN and women's advocacy NGOs—supplemented by interviews with key players from concerned parties, and her own participant-observation—reveals flaws in state-centered international relations theories as applied to UN policy, details the tactics and methods that NGOs can employ in order to push rights issues onto the UN agenda, and offers insights into the factors that affect NGO influence. In so doing, Agenda Setting, the UN, and NGOs departs from conventional international relations theory by drawing on social movement literature to illustrate how rights groups can motivate change at the international level.
Received an Honorable Mention for the 2015 First Michelle Rosaldo Prize for a First Book in Feminist Anthropology from the Association for Feminist Anthropology
Winner of the Adele E. Clarke Book Award from ReproNetwork
After Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the Castro government sought to instill a new social order. Hoping to achieve a new and egalitarian society, the state invested in policies designed to promote the well-being of women and children. Yet once the Soviet Union fell and Cuba’s economic troubles worsened, these programs began to collapse, with serious results for Cuban families.
Conceiving Cuba offers an intimate look at how, with the island’s political and economic future in question, reproduction has become the subject of heated public debates and agonizing private decisions. Drawing from several years of first-hand observations and interviews, anthropologist Elise Andaya takes us inside Cuba’s households and medical systems. Along the way, she introduces us to the women who wrestle with the difficult question of whether they can afford a child, as well as the doctors who, with only meager resources at their disposal, struggle to balance the needs of their patients with the mandates of the state.
Andaya’s groundbreaking research considers not only how socialist policies have profoundly affected the ways Cuban families imagine the future, but also how the current crisis in reproduction has deeply influenced ordinary Cubans’ views on socialism and the future of the revolution. Casting a sympathetic eye upon a troubled state, Conceiving Cuba gives new life to the notion that the personal is always political.
“Contraceptive sex,” wrote social science researcher Mary Eberstadt in 2012, “is the fundamental social fact of our time.” In this important and pointed book, Charles E. Rice, of the Notre Dame Law School, makes the novel claim that the acceptance of contraception is a prelude to persecution. He makes the striking point that contraception is not essentially about sex. It is a First Commandment issue: Who is God? It was at the Anglican Lambeth Conference of 1930 when for the first time a Christian denomination said that contraception could ever be a moral choice. The advent of the Pill in the 1960s made the practice of contraception practically universal. This involved a massive displacement of the Divine Law as a normative measure of conduct, not only on sex but across the board. Nature abhors a vacuum. The State moved in to occupy the place formerly held by God as the ultimate moral Lawgiver. The State put itself on a collision course with religious groups and especially with the Catholic Church, which continues to insist on that traditional teacher. A case in point is the Obama Regime’s Health Care Mandate, coercing employees to provide, contrary to conscience, abortifacients and contraceptives to their employees. The first chapter describes that Mandate, which the Catholic bishops have vowed not to obey. Rice goes on to show that the duty to disobey an unjust law that would compel you to violate the Divine Law does not confer a general right to pick and choose what laws you will obey. The third chapter describes the “main event,” which is the bout to determine whether the United States will conform its law and culture to the homosexual (LGBTQ) lifestyle in all its respects. “The main event is well underway and LGBTQ is well ahead on points.” Professor Rice follows with a clear analysis of the 2013 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Part II presents some “underlying causes” of the accelerating persecution of the Catholic Church. The four chapter headings in this part outline the picture: The Dictatorship of Relativism; Conscience Redefined; The Constitution: Moral Neutrality; and The Constitution: Still Taken Seriously? The answer to the last question, as you might expect, is: No. Part III, the controversial heart of the book, prese nts contraception as “an unacknowledged cause” of persecution. The first chapter argues that contraception is not just a “Catholic issue.” The next chapter describes the “consequences” of contraception and the treatment of women as objects. The third chapter spells out in detail the reality that contraception is a First Commandment issue and that its displacement of God as the ultimate moral authority opened the door for the State to assume that role, bringing on a persecution of the Church. The last chapter, “A Teaching Untaught,” details the admitted failure of the American Catholic bishops to teach Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. But Rice offers hope that the bishops are now getting their act together Part IV offers as a “response” to the persecution of the Church three remedies: Speak the Truth with clarity and charity; Trust God; and, most important, Pray. As the last sentence in the book puts it: “John Paul II wrote in a letter to U.S. bishops in 1993: ‘America needs much prayer – lest it lose its soul.’” This readable and provocative book is abundantly documented with a detailed index of names and subjects.
Examines public discourse from the Progressive Era over the state’s right to regulate women’s bodies and their reproduction
When Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes determined in 1927 that sterilization was a legitimate means of safeguarding the nation’s health, he was asserting the state’s right to regulate the production of the national body. His opinion represented a culmination of arguments about reproduction and immigration that had been circulating for years but that intensified during the Progressive Era. Arguments about reproductive and immigration practices surged to the foreground, and tectonic shifts in the conceptual schemes and practices of reproduction in the United States followed.
Drawing on feminist historiography and genre studies, Corporal Rhetoric: Regulating Reproduction in the Progressive Era explores the rhetoric of medical research, new technologies, and material practices that shifted the idea of childbirth as an act of God or Nature to a medical procedure enacted by male physicians on the bodies of women made passive by both drugs and discourse. Barbara Schneider considers how efficiency, the hallmark of scientific management, was raised to a cardinal virtue by its inclusions in the powerful mediums of presidential speeches, national educational policies, and eugenics discourse to reclassify babies, long regarded as gifts, as either valuable assets or defective products.
Schneider shows how the legal system drew upon medicine, scientific management, and the emerging discipline of sociology to restrict women’s labor in order to preserve reproductive capacity, categorized by Supreme Court opinions as a public good rather than a private capacity. Throughout, she ties the arguments developed during this era to current debates about mothering rhetorics, reproductive rights, immigration, and conceptions of the nation.
By weaving together medical research reports, clinical practices, case studies, legal opinions and legislative acts, and the epistemology of scientific management, Schneider illuminates the network that women such as Margaret Sanger, Jane Addams, Lillian Gilbreth and multiple others negotiated as they sought to give women room to exercise their reproductive capacity. Through her analysis of the machinery of these discourses and the material uptake of their genres in the daily practices of reproductive bodies, Schneider offers a provisional theory of corporal rhetoric that begins to answer the call for a new material theory of the body.
The 1960s revolutionized American contraceptive practice. Diaphragms, jellies, and condoms with high failure rates gave way to newer choices of the Pill, IUD, and sterilization. Fit to Be Tied provides a history of sterilization and what would prove to become, at once, socially divisive and a popular form of birth control.
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.
Sterilization remains one of the most popular forms of fertility control in the world, but it has received little acknowledgment for decreasing birthrates on account of its dubious use as a means of population control, especially in developing countries.
In Matters of Choice, Iris Lopez presents a comprehensive analysis of the dichotomous views that have portrayed sterilization either as part of a coercive program of population control or as a means of voluntary, even liberating, fertility control by individual women. Drawing upon her twenty-five years of research on sterilized Puerto Rican women from five different families in Brooklyn, Lopez untangles the interplay between how women make fertility decisions and their social, economic, cultural, and historical constraints. Weaving together the voices of these women, she covers the history of sterilization and eugenics, societal pressures to have fewer children, a lack of adequate health care, patterns of gender inequality, and misinformation provided by doctors and family members.
Lopez makes a stirring case for a model of reproductive freedom, taking readers beyond victim/agent debates to consider a broader definition of reproductive rights within a feminist anthropological context.
Many women throughout the world face the challenge of confronting an unexpected or an unwanted pregnancy, yet these experiences are often shrouded in silence. An Open Secret draws on personal interviews and medical records to uncover the history of women’s experiences with unwanted pregnancy and abortion in the South American country of Bolivia. This Andean nation is home to a diverse population of indigenous and mixed-race individuals who practice a range of medical traditions. Centering on the cities of La Paz and El Alto, the book explores how women decided whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies and the medical practices to which women recurred in their search for reproductive health care between the early 1950s and 2010. It demonstrates that, far from constituting private events with little impact on the public sphere, women’s intimate experiences with pregnancy contributed to changing policies and services in reproductive health in Bolivia.
After the fall of the state socialist regime and the end of martial law in 1989, Polish society experienced both a sense of relief from the tyranny of Soviet control and an expectation that democracy would bring freedom. After this initial wave of enthusiasm, however, political forces that had lain concealed during the state socialist era began to emerge and establish a new religious-nationalist orthodoxy. While Solidarity garnered most of the credit for democratization in Poland, it had worked quietly with the Catholic Church, to which a large majority of Poles at least nominally adhered. As the church emerged as a political force in the Polish Sejm and Senate, it precipitated a rapid erosion of women’s reproductive rights, especially the right to abortion, which had been relatively well established under the former regime.
The Politics of Morality is an anthropological study of this expansion of power by the religious right and its effects on individual rights and social mores. It explores the contradictions of postsocialist democratization in Poland: an emerging democracy on one hand, and a declining tolerance for reproductive rights, women’s rights, and political and religious pluralism on the other. Yet, as this thoroughly researched study shows, women resist these strictures by pursuing abortion illegally, defying religious prohibitions on contraception, and organizing into advocacy groups. As struggles around reproductive rights continue in Poland, these resistances and unofficial practices reveal the sharp limits of religious form of governance.
The Politics of Reproduction: Adoption, Abortion and Surrogacy in the Age of Neoliberalism uniquely brings together three sites of reproduction and reproductive politics to demonstrate their entanglement in creating or restricting options for family-making. The original essays in this collection—which draw from a wide range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives—are attentive to neoliberalism’s reshaping of economies and intimacies to better understand the politics of reproduction. By looking at particular instances (surrogacy in Mexico, forced sterilization in Peru, and racialized biopolitics in post-Katrina Mississippi, among other sites), The Politics of Reproduction focuses on the effects of a radically altered economic landscape on individual choice-making. As a whole, the volume critically engages the question of choice to better understand the costs of a political and ideological climate that encourages, even demands, individual solutions to intractable social problems. Whose choices are amplified in the use of new biomedical technologies and assisted reproduction? Why and how are we discouraged from understanding the economic motivations behind the “choice” to surrender a baby for adoption or to become a surrogate or to seek an abortion? Attentive to the historical, cultural, and ideological conjunctures of reproductive politics, The Politics of Reproduction makes a distinctive contribution to feminist analyses of the specific challenges posed by neoliberalism to reproductive possibilities, politics, and justice in the contemporary moment.
With the increasing demand for midwives, activists are lobbying to loosen restrictions that deny legal access to homebirth options. In Pushing for Midwives, Christa Craven presents a nuanced history of women’s reproductive rights activism in the U.S. She also provides an examination of contemporary organizing strategies for reproductive rights in an era increasingly driven by “consumer rights.”
An historical and ethnographic case study of grassroots organizing, Pushing for Midwives is an in-depth look at the strategies, successes, and challenges facing midwifery activists in Virginia. Craven examines how decades-old race and class prejudices against midwives continue to impact opposition to—as well as divisions within—women’s contemporary legislative efforts for midwives. By placing the midwifery struggle within a broader reproductive rights context, Pushing for Midwives encourages activists to reconsider how certain political strategies have the potential to divide women. This reflection is crucial in the wake of neoliberal political-economic shifts that have prioritized the rights of consumers over those of citizens—particularly if activists hope to maintain their commitment to expanding reproductive rights for all women.
Reproduction, Globalization, and the State conceptualizes and puts into practice a global anthropology of reproduction and reproductive health. Leading anthropologists offer new perspectives on how transnational migration and global flows of communications, commodities, and biotechnologies affect the reproductive lives of women and men in diverse societies throughout the world. Based on research in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Western Europe, their fascinating ethnographies provide insight into reproduction and reproductive health broadly conceived to encompass population control, HIV/AIDS, assisted reproductive technologies, paternity tests, sex work, and humanitarian assistance. The contributors address the methodological challenges of research on globalization, including ways of combining fine-grained ethnography with analyses of large-scale political, economic, and ideological forces. Their essays reveal complex interactions among global and state population policies and politics; public health, human rights, and feminist movements; diverse medical systems; various religious practices, doctrines, and institutions; and intimate relationships and individual aspirations.
Contributors. Aditya Bharadwaj, Caroline H. Bledsoe, Carole H. Browner, Junjie Chen, Aimee R. Eden, Susan L. Erikson, Didier Fassin, Claudia Lee Williams Fonseca, Ellen Gruenbaum, Matthew Gutmann, Marcia C. Inhorn, Mark B. Padilla, Rayna Rapp, Lisa Ann Richey, Carolyn Sargent, Papa Sow, Cecilia Van Hollen, Linda Whiteford
In the early twentieth century, shifting attitudes and new public health standards brought an unprecedented interest in and effort to regulate issues affecting reproduction and maternity. Maternal and infant health, nutrition, and medical care came under scrutiny, as did the issue of birth control. While the prior gained public support, the latter remained controversial. Though some reformers saw birth control as an important part of maternal welfare, others sought to separate it from more popular reforms. The careers of the four prominent but usually neglected reformers (Elizabeth Lowell Putnam, Ethel Sturges Dummer, Mary Ware Dennett, and Blanche Ames) examined in this book embody the struggle to define and resolve these tensions.
The study of these reformers offers a new perspective on more recognized leaders in the arena of reproductive health and rights, especially the U.S. Children's Bureau and Margaret Sanger. Putnam's elitism contextualizes the class politics of the Bureau, underscoring its sensitivity to the vulnerable and its innovative approach to public health. Dummer reminds us of roads not taken by policy makers in the Bureau, accentuating the differences between a child-centered and a woman-centered agenda. Dennett highlights the obstacles to women reformers in the formal political sphere, while Ames's penchant toward maternalism and compromise also led to difficulties. Together, they illustrate the complexities of formulating an effective approach to securing reproductive rights and health.
In Reproductive Justice, sociologist Barbara Gurr provides the first analysis of Native American women’s reproductive healthcare and offers a sustained consideration of the movement for reproductive justice in the United States.
The book examines the reproductive healthcare experiences on Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota—where Gurr herself lived for more than a year. Gurr paints an insightful portrait of the Indian Health Service (IHS)—the federal agency tasked with providing culturally appropriate, adequate healthcare to Native Americans—shedding much-needed light on Native American women’s efforts to obtain prenatal care, access to contraception, abortion services, and access to care after sexual assault. Reproductive Justice goes beyond this local story to look more broadly at how race, gender, sex, sexuality, class, and nation inform the ways in which the government understands reproductive healthcare and organizes the delivery of this care. It reveals why the basic experience of reproductive healthcare for most Americans is so different—and better—than for Native American women in general, and women in reservation communities particularly. Finally, Gurr outlines the strengths that these communities can bring to the creation of their own reproductive justice, and considers the role of IHS in fostering these strengths as it moves forward in partnership with Native nations.
Reproductive Justice offers a respectful and informed analysis of the stories Native American women have to tell about their bodies, their lives, and their communities.
In Seizing the Means of Reproduction, Michelle Murphy's initial focus on the alternative health practices developed by radical feminists in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s opens into a sophisticated analysis of the transnational entanglements of American empire, population control, neoliberalism, and late-twentieth-century feminisms. Murphy concentrates on the technoscientific means—the technologies, practices, protocols, and processes—developed by feminist health activists. She argues that by politicizing the technical details of reproductive health, alternative feminist practices aimed at empowering women were also integral to late-twentieth-century biopolitics.
Murphy traces the transnational circulation of cheap, do-it-yourself health interventions, highlighting the uneasy links between economic logics, new forms of racialized governance, U.S. imperialism, family planning, and the rise of NGOs. In the twenty-first century, feminist health projects have followed complex and discomforting itineraries. The practices and ideologies of alternative health projects have found their way into World Bank guidelines, state policies, and commodified research. While the particular moment of U.S. feminism in the shadow of Cold War and postcolonialism has passed, its dynamics continue to inform the ways that health is governed and politicized today.
Since the defeat of the Nazi Third Reich and the end of its horrific eugenics policies, battles over the politics of life, sex, and death have continued and evolved. Dagmar Herzog documents how reproductive rights and disability rights, both latecomers to the postwar human rights canon, came to be seen as competing—with unexpected consequences.
Bringing together the latest findings in Holocaust studies, the history of religion, and the history of sexuality in postwar—and now also postcommunist—Europe, Unlearning Eugenics shows how central the controversies over sexuality, reproduction, and disability have been to broader processes of secularization and religious renewal. Herzog also restores to the historical record a revelatory array of activists: from Catholic and Protestant theologians who defended abortion rights in the 1960s–70s to historians in the 1980s–90s who uncovered the long-suppressed connections between the mass murder of the disabled and the Holocaust of European Jewry; from feminists involved in the militant "cripple movement" of the 1980s to lawyers working for right-wing NGOs in the 2000s; and from a handful of pioneers in the 1940s–60s committed to living in intentional community with individuals with cognitive disability to present-day disability self-advocates.