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Silent VictoriesThe History and Practice of Public Health in Twentieth Century America$
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John W. Ward and Christian Warren

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195150698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150698.001.0001

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Teaching Birth Control on Tobacco Road and Mill Village Alley: Race, Class, and Birth Control in Public Health

Teaching Birth Control on Tobacco Road and Mill Village Alley: Race, Class, and Birth Control in Public Health

Chapter:
(p.279) 13 Teaching Birth Control on Tobacco Road and Mill Village Alley: Race, Class, and Birth Control in Public Health
Source:
Silent Victories
Author(s):

Johanna Schoen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150698.003.13

In the 1930s, public health professionals launched birth control programs as part of their infant and maternal health measures. In addition to reducing infant and maternal mortality rates, offering birth control to poor women also seemed attractive for economic and eugenic reasons. Public health birth control services simultaneously offered women reproductive control and provided control over poor women's reproduction. Although clients recognized the race and class prejudices behind many family planning programs, they took advantage of the services offered, and bargained with authorities over the conditions of contraceptive advice. Women's lack of access to contraceptive services, their poverty, their race, and gender significantly influenced their decision to participate in contraceptive field trials or take advantage of birth control programs.

Keywords:   birth control, birth control clinics, North Carolina, public health, Clarence J. Gamble, contraceptive field trials, population control, African American, race, Margaret Sanger

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