Birth control: a history’s outline
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco
Resumen Este artículo reseña las luchas por la legalización del aborto y el acceso a los anticonceptivos en varios países, desde la demanda de acceso a los anticonceptivos aparecida en Gran Bretaña a partir de la década de 1820, misma que pasó a fines del siglo XIX a Estados Unidos, Canadá yvarios países europeos. Se destacan los casos del Partido Comunista de Alemania en el periodo previo al ascenso del fascismo —porque desarrolló un movimiento de control de la natalidad como movimiento de masas— y las razones ideológicas por las cuales Estados Unidos promovió la exportación del control de la natalidad después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Palabras clave: control de la natalidad,feminismo, anticonceptivos. Abstract Birth control: a history’s outline This article reviews the struggles to legalize abortion and access to contraceptives in several countries, from the demand to contraceptive access as from 1820 in Great Britain, this very access appeared by the end of the XIX century into the United States, Canada and other European countries. Noteworthy are the cases of theCommunist Party in Germany in the period prior to the ascension of Fascism —for it developed a movement of birth control as movement of masses— and the ideological reasons which made the United States promote the exportation of birth control after WWII. Key words: birth control, feminism, contraceptives.
Location of the problem
irth control’s history is inscribed into a lengthy political andideological struggle, still unfinished, on sexuality’s problems, which began in England in 1822 with the publication of the pamphlet by Francis Place in favor of it. It has been the subject of debate in the field of politics, science, technology, entrepreneurial history, and even in literature and cinematography, as the struggle for the availability of contraceptives and abortion’sdecriminalization was parallel to another for the freedom of expression on sexual topics, which included the fight against censorship, for instance, in novels such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by David H. Lawrence, and Ulysses, by James Joyce; as
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well as the fight against repressive regulations in cinematographic productions. This issue is, besides, closely linkedto gender domination and the link between sexuality and politics. This history is inscribed into Anthropology and a theory of needs. Additionally, it is part of political history; this is to say, a class struggle, as there were both social forces which were in favor and against, and that these forces were located in the ruling or subordinate strata. There are at least four books which refer thehistory in three countries: Germany, Canada and the United States (Grossmann, 1995; McLaren, 1997; Gordon, 1990; Mc Cann, 1994) and a book chapter in Rumania (Teitelbaum, 1998). There is also an article which refers to the French socialist authors’ positions in the XIX century (Mc Laren, 1976). Thus far, there is not an attempt to write a history of contraception at worldwide level. I will try anoutline of this history from the publication of the first diffusion text on contraception by the aforementioned Place. I try to center it on the political history; nonetheless I will also deal with aspects referred to the history of science and pseudoscientific practices, such as eugenics. I start from the hypothesis that the introduction of efficacious and accessible contraceptive methodsrepresented great progress, as for the separation between sexuality and procreation, indispensable progress for the full enjoyment of the former, as well as for millions of people can plan their life rationally and develop as human beings in multiple dimensions, which includes bringing up and educate better their offspring. I suggest that the issue of the struggle for birth control should be seen...
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