Re Reproductive Rights and Family Planning Taken for Granted?
I will attach the readings to this order.
One of the things I was hoping this weeks readings would illustrate for you is how very recent it is for us to have continuous, easy access to birth control and contraception, as well as other reproductive procedures. A century is very, very little time in historic terms, and even though medical and legal barriers started to break down during World War I, and diaphragms and condoms came into much wider use, the oral contraceptive pill was not developed and approved until 1960.
As I mentioned in the learning objectives, reproductive rights broadly conceived also include the right to decide when and how to have children, the right to work and have children at the same time, access to legal and medically safe abortions, and access to medical technology that aids fertility. This is a broad range of legal, medical, and economic changes that were not available until about sixty years ago, and yet most people assume that they have been and always will be present. On the other hand, there has also been a long chain of abuse and sterilization of women without their knowledge, and underground abortions that were often fatal or incredibly damaging because they were neither sterile nor done by a qualified medical professional.
Sanger talks about the dangers of overpopulation and the detrimental effect on womens bodies and minds when they are forced to bear too many children without any way to prevent and space their births. DuBois talks about the necessity of allowing women the exercise of their minds, their economic earning power, and their maternal instincts, and stresses in particular that this is important for African-American women, who are often part of the workforce out of necessity. They should not have to choose between celibacy and satisfying work, or marriage and motherhood (since, in his time, married and pregnant women were often fired as a matter of course). Alva Myrdal stresses this same necessity for all women, the ability to have both fulfilling work and children.
Davis really focuses on the ways that we frame Propermotherhood and who is allowed access to birth control and fertility treatments, and the reasons behind that access. She talks about who was involuntarily sterilized, how our concept of Goodparenting needs to be changed, and why our old models concerning children and parenting might not work anymore.
Please answer the following:
1. Does it change your perspective to know that continuous access to birth control, fertility treatments, etc., was so very recent? Had you ever thought about what would happen if the laws allowing those things were repealed, if access to that reproductive control was taken away?
2. Had you ever thought about which portions of the population are encouraged to become parents and which arent? Which people are encouraged to use birth control? Which ones are encouraged to seek help with fertility, and who is Encouragednot to give birth at all?
3. How do you think our concepts of family and reproduction are changing? It has been 23 years since Davis wrote her article, even longer since the other articles, and while some of the problems detailed in them remain the same, in other ways families have changed drastically. What still seems to ring true from this weeks readings, and what has changed in the last 25 to 100 years? How has the focus of the argument over reproductive rights changed?