The Birth Control Clinic in a Marketplace World

The Birth Control Clinic in a Marketplace World

Rose Holz
Volume: 21
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.cttn3319
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Birth Control Clinic in a Marketplace World
    Book Description:

    ‘The Birth Control Clinic in a Marketplace World’ is the first book to chart the origins and evolution of the charity birth control clinic movement in the United States from the 1910s through the 1970s, a period that witnessed dramatic transformation in the goods and services such clinics provided. Rose Holz uncovers the virtually unexamined relationship between Planned Parenthood and the commercial marketplace sphere. Challenging more than thirty years of historiography on birth control, Holz sheds new light on battles over reproductive rights through her analysis of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America within the context of the commercial birth control world. Revealing that it would be Planned Parenthood's engagement to charity -- the argument the organization once used to discredit the presumed profit-driven exploitation of the marketplace -- that would put precisely those women it hoped to assist in dangerous situations, she asks such probing questions as: What were the meanings attached to the provision of birth control and its commercial distribution? How in turn were these meanings used as sources of power? The project draws on rich primary sources to answer these questions and to examine the historical role of the local birth control clinic in modern America. Rose Holz earned her PhD in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is associate director of and associate professor of practice in the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-829-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    It was August 1998. I had been doing research for this book—a history of the Illinois birth control clinic movement—for almost two years. I had read through the records of the local and national Planned Parenthood offices and gathered material from the popular and medical press. I had also begun to conduct a series of oral history interviews with women who had worked in local Illinois clinics. Slowly my research was coming together. Or so I thought, because it was in that warm month of August that I finally followed the advice of historian Leslie Reagan, drove up...

  5. Chapter One The Birth of the Clinic
    (pp. 20-45)

    When Andrea Tone wrote Devices and Desires (2001), she breathed new life into what had become an old story about birth control, particularly in its illegal days. “Scholars,” she wrote, “have often characterized the period between criminalization in the 1870s and Margaret Sanger’s movement in the second decade of the twentieth century as birth control’s bleakest chapter, a time when only a privileged few could afford the services of sympathetic doctors or of a dwindling number of merchants who would ignore the law for the right price.” Yet, as was the case when Leslie Reagan looked into the history of...

  6. Chapter Two Rising Above
    (pp. 46-68)

    “The cause of birth control has reached that stage of development where charlatans, quacks and commercial interests are trying to turn it to profit and ride in upon the wave of popularity,” warned the American Birth Control League’s executive director, Marguerite Benson, in a 1935 issue of the Birth Control Review.¹ Indeed, fueled by Depression-era hardships as well as the charity movement’s efforts to promote birth control and help with the establishment of local charity clinics, the 1930s witnessed a massive expansion of birth control methods, birth control providers, and the rise even of irregular birth control clinics—those facilities...

  7. Chapter Three Old Habits Are Hard to Break
    (pp. 69-95)

    When turning to the charity clinic movement’s activities in the 1940s and 1950s, it is hard not to appreciate what Linda Gordon had to say about the period in the groundbreaking Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right (1976): these years constituted the third major shift in the birth control movement more generally, one that the organization’s new name—which changed from the Birth Control Federation of America to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942—made plain. As Gordon explained, “The radical associations of the term ‘birth control’ seemed inescapable to many in the movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Opponents...

  8. Chapter Four New Habits Are Formed
    (pp. 96-145)

    When turning to what might be described as the revolution of birth control in the 1960s and early 1970s, retrospect affords me a feeling that what took place during these years had somehow already taken place once before. Indeed, many of the events in these years bear eerie resemblance to those of the 1930s. Much like the 1930s, for example, there was an explosion of growth in the contraceptive manufacturing industry. Much like the 1930s, there were new laws and initiatives that relected a growing endorsement of birth control on behalf of the state. Much like the 1930s, there was...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 146-158)

    When I began this book I was haunted by suspicions and fearful of my conclusions; now that I have reached the conclusion, I know why. The stakes are indeed great. The three themes I laid out in the introduction—the malleable relationship between business and charity, the malleable definition of birth control, and the guerilla-style flexibility of the form and function of the local birth control clinic—remain as salient in recent decades as they did in the past, and the anxiety I felt about their implications gnaws even more deeply. Much as before, charity and business continue to intersect,...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 159-200)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-226)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-227)