Sex and Herbs and Birth Control is about the pragmatism and resourcefulness of women. In their continuing efforts to maintain control of their sexuality and fertility, through time and across cultures women have managed to navigate around the constraints imposed upon them. They have utilized herbs that reduce fertility; fashioned makeshift diaphragms out of lemon, beeswax, and sea sponge; and circumvented religious and societal proscriptions in order to maintain their access to abortion. They have even manipulated definitions of pregnancy itself. This does not mean, however, that women's control over childbearing decisions has remained constant, still less that it is always increasing. The array of forces acting to limit women's reproductive options is formidable.
Selective rather than encyclopedic, Sex and Herbs and Birth Control includes examples not only from the U.S. and western Europe, but also from Algeria, China, Cuba, El Salvador, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The book contains original treatments of Margaret Sanger, the origins of forensic pathology and its ties to abortion, the complex meanings of pregnancy and its termination, and the shortcomings of demographers' discussions of fertility control.
For further commentary, updates on material in the book, and readers' comments please see the author's blog.
"fearlessly female-centric" -- Publishers Weekly
"...women have long been quietly controlling their own fertility and passing down the knowledge. The author leads readers on an entertaining and original journey..." -- Conscience (journal of Catholics for Choice)
The Institute for Humanities Research of Arizona State University, in selecting it for the 2015 Transdisciplinary Book Award, described it as a "groundbreaking book [that] takes the reader on a journey across time and space, investigating the always innovative (and occasionally surprising) approaches to women's health from India to Cuba... a fresh, insightful take on an age old problem... a wonderful example of truly transdisciplinary research and the amazing results of breaking down rigid disciplinary borders."
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