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

By Melissa Haussman | Go to book overview

Series Foreword

These are bad times for women’s sexual and reproductive freedom. Restrictions on abortion have made that choice more difficult, while Roe v. Wade remains one Supreme Court vote short of extinction. The precarious status of abortion rights is old news. Until 2012, however, women’s right to prevent pregnancy seemed to be noncontroversial. That state of affairs abruptly changed. I did not expect ever again to hear a sexually active single woman called a slut—then Rush Limbaugh did, on his radio show. The segments of the population that have insisted on abstinence-only sex education for teens now expect adults to remain celibate outside of marriage. The Roman Catholic Church, whose handling of its child-abuse scandal has destroyed whatever moral authority it possessed, is suing for an exemption to the requirement that employers include contraception in their employees’ health insurance. Although 17 percent of the members of Congress are women, birth-control policy is set there by an exclusively male group. A large and vocal segment of American society seeks to deprive women of the freedom to act and to control the consequences of their acts.

Emergency contraception, Plan B, or the morning-after pill offers women a unique opportunity to deal with the consequences of heterosexual intercourse after the fact, not before. The procedure is not quite birth control, but not quite abortion either. Melissa Haussman’s study brings a comparativist’s perspective

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