The sterilization movement and global fertility in ...



Title The sterilization movement and global fertility in the twentieth century
Author(s) Ian Robert, Dowbiggin
Date 2008
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place published Oxford; New York
Abstract "Next to global warming, the most urgent international issue facing governments in the twenty-first century is likely to be the all-time low birth rates around the world, what pundits Ben Wattenberg and Philip Longman call the "birth dearth" and the "empty cradle," respectively." "Now, for the first time, historian Ian Dowbiggin explains that a major cause of the birth dearth was the propagandistic efforts of a handful of men and women, including Margaret Sanger, Alan Guttmacher, and Paul Ehrlich, who in the course of the twentieth century convinced policy makers and the public that sterilization was the best means of population control. Drawing on archival records, some rarely seen before, Dowbiggin charts the rise of the sterilization movement from its modest origins immediately following World War II to its current status as one of the most influential players in the international family-planning field. Along the way, he documents how family-planning programs based on sterilization targeted poverty-stricken areas around the world. The result, Dowbiggin argues, not only penalized the poor and minorities: it also appears to be one of the biggest policy mistakes in modern history. The author ends by shedding light on the practical and ethical difficulties of distinguishing coercion from choice in reproductive-health policy. What does informed consent in birth control really mean on the ground? Whose needs are actually served in attempts to reduce fertility rates? According to Dowbiggin, the twentieth-century birth control movement never entirely shed its eugenic origins."--Jacket.

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