Privacy, autonomy, and birth control in America, 1860-1900

Access to birth control became, controversially, protected by the “right to privacy” in 1965; a hundred years before, “procreation was a matter of public concern.” Yet, contradictorily and confusingly, Victorian women — and their bodies — were protected (and limited) by a powerful social division between private and public spheres.

Sex and Eugenics Sterilization

In looking through Johanna Schoen’s 2005 book, Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare, it appears that, although eugenics-based sterilization procedures in the early-to-mid twentieth century appear to have targeted women more than men, men were also sterilized through these programs.

Objectivity, science, and (a)political action

Theodore M. Porter, in Trust in Numbers, argues that the American distrust of elites — and of government itself — has led to a focus on “mechanical objectivity,” or rules to make decisions. In many ways similar to what American jurists call “procedural due process,” the idea is to diminish the necessity of personal judgement in favor of predictable, […]

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