A sweeping chronicle of women’s battles for reproductive freedom
Reproductive politics in the United States has always been about who has the power to decide—lawmakers, the courts, clergy, physicians, or the woman herself. Authorities have rarely put women’s needs and interests at the center of these debates. Instead, they have created reproductive laws and policies to solve a variety of social and political problems, with outcomes that affect the lives of different groups of women differently.
Reproductive politics were at play when slaveholders devised “breeding” schemes, when the US government took indigenous children from their families in the nineteenth century, and when doctors pressured Latina women to be sterilized in the 1970s. Tracing the main plot lines of women’s reproductive lives, the leading historian Rickie Solinger redefines the idea of reproductive freedom, putting race and class at the center of the effort to control sex and pregnancy in America over time.
Revisiting these issues after more than a decade, this revised edition of Pregnancy and Power reveals how far the reproductive justice movement has come, and the renewed struggles it faces in the present moment. Even after nearly a half-century of “reproductive rights,” a cascade of new laws and policies limits access and prescribes punishments for many people trying to make their own reproductive decisions. In this edition, Solinger traces the contemporary rise of reproductive consumerism and the politics of “free market” health care as economic inequality continues to expand in the US, revealing the profound limits of “choice” and the continued need for the reproductive justice framework.