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Birth control politics in the United States, 1916-1945 /
Carole R. McCann.
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994.
xi, 242 p. ; 24 cm.
0801424909 (alk. paper)
More Details
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994.
0801424909 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [219]-230) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1995-01:
Did birth control advocates in the early 20th century abandon women's rights for the sake of respectability? McCann (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County) contends they had little choice given massive opposition. Although botched abortions accounted for 25-30 percent of maternal mortality, the Comstock Law prohibited the sale and distribution of contraceptives; most Americans viewed women as mothers; eugenicists equated poverty with inferiority; organized medicine fought birth control and public health measures; and even women's rights groups such as the National Women's Party fled from the ideas of financially and sexually independent women. McCann argues that, for pragmatic purposes, Margaret Sanger conceded to the medical profession's demand for control, "racial betterment," and the economic rationale of child spacing. It worked; by 1945, some 800 independent clinics existed. The costs, however, included women's loss of authority and patronizing service to poor, immigrant, and African American women. Although the book is fairly well written, it could have used another rewrite to cut academic prose. Recommended for specialists who are interested in the wars among different birth control organizations and with a hostile environment. S. D. Borchert; Lake Erie College
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 1995
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Main Description
In a disturbing behind-the-scenes history of the early achievements of Margaret Sanger's American birth control movement, Carole R. McCann scrutinizes the movement's compromises as well as its successes.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The Politics of Pessariesp. 1
Birth Control and Feminismp. 23
Birth Control and the Medical Professionp. 59
Birth Control and Racial Bettermentp. 99
Better Health for Thirteen Million: The Interracial Coalition for Birth Controlp. 135
Laywomen and Organization Menp. 175
Chronology of Events in the U.S. Birth Control Movementp. 209
Works Citedp. 219
Indexp. 231
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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