I’ve Made a Mistake

                As I worked through my reading list this semester while juggling a hectic schedule, I failed to consider the order of my books. Instead, I read the book that was the easiest to get my hands on at the time. I started with ones that I purchased and worked my way towards the ones I would need to get from the library. This resulted in the last three books on my list being Fit to be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980 by Rebecca M. Kluchin,  Breeding Contempt: The History of Coerced Sterilization in the United States by Mark Largent, and Matters of Choice: Puerto Rican Women’s Struggle for Reproductive Freedom  by Iris Lopez. Although I am glad I saved Kluchin’s book and Largent’s book for last, I made the mistake of putting Lopez’s book last. I had to fight the urge to sit down and read it cover to cover instead of skimming it. I should have read Lopez’s book second and I feel that it was a giant mistake not to have had Lopez’s ideas in my mind while reading the other books on my list. Continue reading

“Partial Birth Abortion”

                Unfortunately, I did not read my book in its entirety this week. I read The Reproductive Rights Reader: Law, Medicine, and the Construction of Motherhood edited by Nancy Ehrenreich. It is a collection of articles on different aspects of reproduction and provides a great amount of variety. The reader was published in 2008 but some of the articles go back to 1980. Also, the authors are diverse. They are primarily law professors but there are also scholars of history, public policy, anthropology, and sociology. The book covers many topics from the reconstructive surgery to racism in birth control to access to abortion to sterilization to regulation of behavior while pregnant. I really enjoyed the setup of the book. The articles were divided into three different sections covering different issues and the articles were usually short and easy to read. It makes the reader accessible to many different people with varying academic backgrounds. Behind some of the articles there are questions and comments to help facilitate discussion. Overall, this is one of my favorite books on my list because of its accessibility. I wish I had this as a text book for a class so I could discuss more of it.

                For my review, I am going to pick on the most interesting article that I read, “Crossing the Line: The Political and Moral Battle Over Late-Term Abortion” by Rigel C. Oliveri. Continue reading

Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance

John M. Riddle is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of history at North Carolina State University that specializes in the history of medicine with a concentration on ancient drugs, active in the International Society for the History of Medicine, a former president of both the Society for Ancient Medicine and the American Institute for the History of Pharmacology, and winner of the Urdang International Medal for Outstanding Writing in the History of Medicine and Pharmacy. In Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance he not only recounts societies’ numerous historical attempts to control reproduction, but he was also the first historian to claim that women’s “knowledge [of effective reproductive control] was primarily transmitted by a network of women working within the culture of their gender and that only occasionally was some of it learned by medical writers, almost all of whom were male (16),” and that this knowledge was “gradually lost over the course of the Middle Ages (back cover).” Continue reading

Frustration

I’m afraid that I may have made a mistake with my reading list. I find myself getting frustrated with the books because I keep reading the same history over and over again. Even though each book is written by a different author with a different perspective, I still feel like I am reading the same events over and over again. For most of the books, I find that I can skim the history sections now and still understand the other portions of the work. I’m nervous to move forward that I will be bored with the rest of my books especially since three are specifically history books. I examined the list and it looks like each of the books are going to be specific enough that I won’t be forced to reread the same facts and only the same facts over and over again. For this week, I read Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Helath and Welfare by Johanna Schoen. Continue reading

Killing the Black Body

        I was first introduced to Dorothy E. Roberts’ Killing the Black Body in another class when the class covered reproductive choice. The chapter, “Making Reproduction a Crime” discusses drug addicts’ freedom of reproductive choice. Before that class, I had never discussed the topic and the discussions in the class were filled with problematic comments and my frustration from that class actually sparked my decision to study reproductive choice in the United States as my topic for this semester. After my problematic class discussion, I knew that I wanted to read this book in it’s entirety. Even though this book was originally published over ten years ago, the racism and oppression are still present in the United States. Continue reading

Patriarchal Criminal Justice

As I read, Our Bodies Our Crimes: The Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America by Jeanne Falvin, I again felt the urge to throw the book out the window like I did with Sanger’s book but this time I wasn’t mad at the author; I was mad at society. I’ve had a triggering week where racism and sexism have plagued me culminating in being accused of negating a white gay man’s privilege by calling out sexism and racism in Glee. This book did not help me arrive at happy social justice land unfortunately. Reading this book did help strengthen my disdain for the male privilege polluting America though. Flavin’s book discusses the sexist practices of the criminal justice system and how this impacts women’s reproductive freedom and ability to raise children. Continue reading

Women of Color and Reproductive Health

For this week I read Women of color and the Reproductive Rights Movement by Jennifer Nelson which wasn’t originally on my list of books. I discovered this book on the shelf in the library when I went to get another book from my reading list. After reading the description on the back and part of the introduction, I knew it would be beneficial for me to read this book. While reading about reproductive choice, I’m really interested in how race and class affects a women’s right to choose. This book would cover this but including it meant making the painful decision to remove one of the books already on my list.   Continue reading

A Patriarchal Look at Reproductive Choice

        When I was researching books to read for this semester, I was excited to find out that Margaret Sanger’s grandson, Alexander Sanger, has a book out on reproduction. Although I knew nothing about him, I was hopeful that his book would offer an interesting perspective since his grandmother was so influential in the early reproductive choice movement. After looking up information about him, I found out that he has worked closely with Planned Parenthood which gave me more hope that his book would be a great addition to my reading list. However, while reading his book, Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century, I found myself resisting the urge to hurl it out my window. Continue reading

What it means to live in a “Brave New World”

Where to being? There was so much packed into this book dealing with power, abuse of power, and social construction. And although currently social construction is not my main focus, we will see where my other readings take me, but I am really beginning to see how the two topics are intertwined. Continue reading

America and the Pill

            I decided to start off my readings on reproductive choice in the United States with Elaine Tyler May’s America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation. The book provides the history of the birth control pill from Margot Sanger and Katherine McCormick’s dream of a “magic pill” to prevent pregnancy to the current attitudes and policies involving the birth control pill. Throughout the historical account of the pill, May proposes the argument that the pill wasn’t a revolutionary invention with the power to fuel a change in sexual attitudes, curb the population explosion that many feared in the 1960s, end poverty, or any of the other effects that many believed it would, instead May argues that the greatest impact of the pill was on individual lives by allowing women th Continue reading