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Who Chooses?American Reproductive History since 1830$
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Simone M. Caron

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813031996

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813031996.001.0001

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Backlash, 1973–2000

Backlash, 1973–2000

(p.221) 8 Backlash, 1973–2000
Who Chooses?

Simone M. Caron

University Press of Florida

Government subsidies and population control advocacy of contraception and sterilization continued through the end of the twentieth century. By the year 2000 female sterilization was the most common contraceptive, especially among women of color and lower economic means. The use of public funds for abortion, on the other hand, came under increasing attack. The battleground shifted from efforts to legalize abortion to organized and sometimes violent attempts to recriminalize or restrict access to it. The modern antichoice campaign resembles nineteenth-century efforts to undermine women's demands for equal rights by forcing them to revert to the traditional role of mother. While both campaigns portrayed aborting women as selfish and unnatural, few in the nineteenth century debated the legal status or personhood of the fetus. The post-Roe opposition, on the other hand, prioritized the legal and constitutional protection of the fetus over the mother. The vocal antiabortion camp led population controllers to emphasize instead sterilization and long-acting contraceptives, especially Depo Provera (DP) and Norplant, as the answer to perceived population problems. As abortion became too politically charged to promote as a cost-saving method for governments, state and federal funding dried up. Funds for sterilization and long-acting contraceptives, on the other hand, remained intact. These methods better suit the population control agenda as they are permanent, or semipermanent, and thus avoid any accidental pregnancies that indigent women could not afford to abort.

Keywords:   contraception, sterilization, reproductive policy, abortion, antichoice campaign, contraceptives, population control, antiabortion

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