Author(s): Reed JW
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Abstract PIP: This essay synthesizes the history of the birth control movement in the US and describes changes in sexual behavior, social values, and public policy in order to provide a context for the changes in human reproductive public policy. After an introduction, the essay outlines the history of contraception from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Part 3 covers the period of World War I to the Depression when civil libertarians and eugenicists began to question the suppression of contraception and Margaret Sanger organized her clinics. The fourth part of the essay carries the history forward to the end of World War II, a period in which Dr. Clarence J. Gamble began to expose the marketing of defective contraceptive methods and to illustrate the willingness of poor women to accept contraceptives. The social changes which began in the 1950s are the subject of the fifth section of the essay. During this period, Roman Catholic opposition to contraception lessened, and social scientists began to focus world attention on overpopulation. Frank Notestein was appointed the first head of the Office of Population Research at Princeton, and John D. Rockefeller III founded the Population Council which conducted research into the IUD and began to attempt to influence population growth in nonindustrialized countries. This period also saw the development of the oral contraceptive. The changes of this era were institutionalized in 1967 when the federal government took a positive stance towards family planning in its Social Security Amendments. The decade of the 1970s is the subject of the last part of this essay. This period saw the Supreme Court assign a constitutionally protected right to abortion and Congress pass the Helms Amendment which denied the use of foreign aid funds for abortions. Challenges to the right to individual birth control practice continued during this period, and debate centered around the specter of overpopulation, the threat of adolescent pregnancy, and perceptions of "family values."
This article was published in J Policy Hist
and referenced in Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy