The politics of birth control, 1920-1940: the impact of professionals

L. Gordon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The birth control movement in the U.S. originated in the years before the 1920s as a movement concerned with women's rights and sexual freedom. Demands for the legalization of birth control came from feminists and other radical political activists. During the 1920s, however, the movement became respectable and nonradical. Women's rights became a secondary concern, shoved aside by concern with medical health and population control. This transformation was achieved through the professionalization of the movement. 2 groups who were particularly influential were the doctors and the academic eugenists. The doctors ma de birth control a medical issue, held back the development of popular sex education, and stifled a previously developing feminist approach to the birth control needs of women. The academic eugenists helped transform the movement into a population control movement with racist and anti-feminist overtones. While both groups contributed to the technology of contraception, they retarded its popular acceptance by transforming it from a popular movement into a professional staff lobbying operation. author's modified

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)253-277
    Number of pages25
    JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1975

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health Policy


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