Legislating access to birth control, sex education, and abortion is also not new. In 1873 the US Congress made it illegal to mail 'obscene, lewd, or lascivious materials'—including any object designed for contraception or to induce abortion. In some states in the 1900s, it was illegal for Americans to possess, sell, advertise, or even speak about methods of controlling pregnancy.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Margaret Sanger, Mary Ware Dennett, and others began to defy these laws and advocate for the legalization of birth control and for better women's reproductive healthcare. By 1960 doctors had developed the Pill, but it wasn't until 1972 that all US citizens had legal access to birth control. And in the landmark decision Roe v Wade (1973), the US Supreme Court ruled that women had a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
Disputes over contraception, sex education, and abortion continue to roil the nation, leading to controversial legal and political rulings and occasionally violence. As society changes—and as new reproductive technologies expand the possibilities for controlling and initiating pregnancy—Americans will continue to debate reproductive rights for all.
Designed to introduce and inform the reader to this extremely difficult topic, Baer's ecumenical approach exposes us to a variety of opinions from support for current abortion policies to the building movement for fetal rights. Only reasoned opinions supported by hard evidence are included, and no attempt was made to mute the often incommensurable opinions expressed within. This book will be a valuable resources for students, scholars, and any person interested in learning about the multiplicity of perspectives on this important issue that is at the heart of our current culture wars.
A separate chapter looks at abortion politics throughout the world and places the United States in a global context. Biographies of major players, extensive data and documents, and a bibliography of important resources make this an essential resource on one of the most controversial topics in our national dialog.