This one-volume reference work introduces the reader to the subject of reproductive rights through a collection of short articles. It has been planned to be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. As the title implies, the approach is historical and multicultural. The articles extend both backward and forward in time, attempting to provide insights into both what has changed and what has stayed the same. The article topics—and the authors—were chosen with an eye toward representing American culture in its diversity and complexity, not only with respect to racial and ethnic groups but also in age, class, education, health, religion, sexual preference, and viewpoint. The approach is interdisciplinary as well as historical and multicultural. The encyclopedia includes articles on laws, court cases, political attitudes, prominent activists, and technological advances, and on subjects like race, class, disability, and sexual preference as they relate to reproductive rights.
I have designed this encyclopedia with two purposes in mind. First, I wanted it to do what good, specialized encyclopedias do: provide brief introductions to selected topics and references to guide further inquiry. Second, I wanted articles that would engage and provoke readers. I have worked hard to ensure that this encyclopedia includes opinions other than mine. After I had selected topics on which to solicit articles, I also put announcements on several e-mail listserves, asking readers to suggest other topics. I invited articles from both scholars and activists, and encouraged the authors to incorporate reasoned opinions, supported by evidence, into their articles. Viewpoint was welcome; bias was not. One result of my efforts to include multiple viewpoints is the presence of considerable overlap and repetition in this volume. For example, at least 12 articles deal, directly