Reproductive Rights and the State: Getting the Birth Control, RU-486, Morning-after Pills and the Gardasil Vaccine to the U.S. Market

Reproductive Rights and the State: Getting the Birth Control, RU-486, Morning-after Pills and the Gardasil Vaccine to the U.S. Market

Reproductive Rights and the State: Getting the Birth Control, RU-486, Morning-after Pills and the Gardasil Vaccine to the U.S. Market

Reproductive Rights and the State: Getting the Birth Control, RU-486, Morning-after Pills and the Gardasil Vaccine to the U.S. Market

Synopsis

Simultaneously examining four significant, never-before-combined case studies, this unique feminist analysis offers troubling revelations about the private-public interaction in U.S. policy affecting birth control drugs.

Excerpt

This book was written with the understanding that women’s ability to control their lives rests fundamentally with power over their reproductive choices. This discussion shows that the desire to enhance women’s power has not been central to U.S. reproductive drug policymaking. While pharmaceutical companies, federal and state governments, and pharmacies could help women, they have at times abdicated that responsibility based on stated fear of pro-life pressure. More often, the purported pro-life pressure is a cover for government and pharma’s fear of damage to the bottom line of the for-profit U.S. pharma sector. Despite the fact that women are the majority of the U.S. population and consumers, they do not have any level of policy power proportionately resembling their strength in numbers. This study is also a clear call to elect more responsible, pro-choice women to office at all levels and to encourage them to become pharmacy owners and key players in pharma companies. In this way, women will have the decision-making power to help women control their reproductive decisions. In this scenario, the women in the public and private-sector offices would be effecting both descriptive and substantive representation.

At the one point in time where public and private-sector decision-making coincided to favor women’s interests, from the mid-1950s to 1973, the overall ethos was not to help women, per se. Rather, this period was one where the U.S. pharmaceutical, agricultural, and chemical industries sought and received government and foundation-based funding, largely from Rockefeller and Ford, to develop and test their products. The testing usually took place off the official U.S. radar screen, in Latin America, Asia, or in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. When these products—including miracle seeds and rices and contraceptive injections, devices, and pills—were developed, they were then typically publicly subsidized. In that manner, all countries and all users in the United States could afford access to the technology. Donald Critchlow has shown how John D. Rockefeller III, as head of the Rockefeller Foundation, worked to fund and develop contraceptives, including the birth-control pill developed by Dr. Gregory Pincus. Presidents Johnson and Nixon put public funding for contraception for low-income women in their budgets, to be administered through the Health, Education, and Welfare Department (which was split into separate Education and Health and Human Services Departments in 1979). Critchlow details how Rockefeller was able to broker a consensus with the U.S. Catholic Church not to lobby against public contraception funding for low-income women, while they retained the authority to preach against chemical contraception in their parishes.

Critchlow also discusses how the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision irrevocably drove the Catholic Church out of the silent majority, allowing contraception to be publicly-funded and into the arms of the since more powerful pro-life (sometimes also called “pro-family” coalition). The pro-life and pro-family distinction is made by William Saletan, who describes Catholic groups’ mobilizing since 1973 around the principle of never favoring anything that would harm life. On the other hand, fundamentalist Protestant groups’ membership in the coalition is sometimes based on a slightly different principle, that of promoting marriage but also limited childbearing.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.