The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 2002 - Social Science - 446 pages
1 Review
The only book to cover the entire history of birth control and the intense controversies about reproduction rights that have raged in the United States for more than 150 years, The Moral Property of Women is a thoroughly updated and revised version of the award-winning historian Linda Gordon's classic history Woman's Body, Woman's Right, originally published in 1976.

Arguing that reproduction control has always been central to women's status, The Moral Property of Women shows how opposition to it has long been part of the conservative opposition to gender equality. From its roots in folk medicine and in a campaign so broad it constituted a grassroots social movement at some points in history, to its legitimization through public policy, the widespread acceptance of birth control has involved a major reorientation of sexual values.

In three new chapters and updates throughout, Gordon addresses birth control and public policy, the intense abortion debates of the past thirty years, and a host of issues that extend from abortion controversies, including sterilization, teenage pregnancy and childbearing, and stem-cell research. Illuminating the conflicts and politics at the core of birth control issues through a historical lens, The Moral Property of Women places today's "choice" versus "right-to-life" movements in the context of the campaign that first prohibited abortion in the mid-nineteenth century and the campaign that legalized contraception in the early twentieth century.

From the earliest attempts of women to organize for the legal control of their bodies to the effects of second-wave feminism, Gordon defines the role that birth control has played in society's attitudes towardwomen, sexuality, and gender equality. Highlighting the leaders of the struggle and their actions, The Moral Property of Women chronicles the contributions of notorious reproductive control activists such as Margaret Sanger as well as lesser-known pioneers including the utopian socialist Robert Dale Owen, the women's rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the three doctors Foote -- Edward Bliss Foote, Edward Bond Foote, and Mary Bond Foote -- the anarchists Ezra Heywood and Emma Goldman, the civil libertarian Mary Ware Dennett, and abortion rights advocates of the 1970s.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I never read this book, but my daughter is writing a paper for her High School Composition class and choose to write about abortions. PLEASE, explain to me how making abortion legal PROTECTS women!!!! You can be sure that some of the babies KILLED are girls so they would have become WOMEN!!! WHO PROTECTS THEM????? Look at the pictures! Watch an abortion procedure! Look at an altrasound picture of a 6 week fetus!!! Too bad all these women who are "standing up for women's rights" didn't have moms that wanted to get rid of their "tissue"! 


Birth Control the Moral Property of Vomen i
From Folk Medicine to Prohihition to Resistance
Birth Control and Womens Rights
Birth Control in the Era of SecondWave Feminsm
Birth Control and Feminism
Selected Recent Scholarship on the History

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2002)

Linda Gordon is a professor of history at New York University.

Bibliographic information