Contraceptive Risk

The FDA, Depo-Provera, and the Politics of Experimental Medicine

336 pages

May, 2017

ISBN: 9781479836987



Add to Cart Available: 4/7/2017

Also available in


PoliticsHealth & MedicinePolitics

Part of the Biopolitics series


William Green is Professor of Government at Morehead State University in Kentucky, where he teaches constitutional law and comparative politics. His research and publications explore constitutional and civil liberties issues and the political and legal dimensions of economic development, labor relations, language rights, and pharmaceutical drug policies.

All books by William Green

The story of Depo-Provera joins the national struggle over the drug's FDA approval to the state legal issues raised by its contraceptive and criminal justice uses.
Depo-Provera is known as an injectable hormonal birth control method, but few are familiar with its dark and complicated history. Depo-Provera was tested on women since the mid-1960s without their informed consent until it was FDA-approved in 1992, but never FDA-approved as chemical castration for male sex offenders.
Contraceptive Risk is William Green's landmark study of Depo-Provera. Based on a fascinating combination of archival materials and interviews, the book is framed as three interconnected stories told by Judith Weisz, who chaired the FDA's Public Board of Inquiry on Depo-Provera, a scientific court; by Anne MacMurdo who brought a products liability suit against Upjohn, the drug's manufacturer, for the deleterious side effects she suffered from the drug's use; and by Roger Gauntlett, an Upjohn heir who, when he was convicted of sexual assault, refused to take a dose of his family's own medicine as a probation condition. Together these three stories of Depo-Provera's convoluted fifty year odyssey call for a paradigm shift in pharmaceutical drug development.

Contraceptive Risk is a thoroughly researched and engrossing approach to the scientific, political and institutional forces involved in health law and policy, as well as the multifaceted politics of measuring risk.



  • "By far the most thorough account of the Depo-Provera story to date. Though we may never get clear answers about whether Depo-Provera has done more harm than good over the past few decades, this well-researched history will be of great interest to those in the public health and women and gender studies fields, as well as many women contemplating the use of Depo-Provera themselves."

    —Judy Norsigian, co-author and co-founder of Our Bodies Ourselves and the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

  • “William Green’s fascinating tale of the use and misuse of Depo-Provera highlights the complex and faulty world of ‘risk management,’ the competing powerful interests at stake in drug approval and use, and the misuse of contraceptive drugs in controlling reproduction and sexual deviance.”

    —Karen L. Baird, co-author of Beyond Reproduction: Women's Health, Activism, and Public Policy