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Unearthing individual stories and statistical records from previously overlooked birth control clinics, Cathy Moran Hajo looks past the rhetoric of the birth control movement to show the relationships, politics, and issues that defined the movement in neighborhoods and cities across the United States. Whereas previous histories have emphasized national trends and glossed over the majority of clinics, Birth Control on Main Street contextualizes individual case studies to add powerful new layers to the existing narratives on abortion, racism, eugenics, and sterilization.
Hajo draws on an original database of more than 600 clinics run by birth control leagues, hospitals, settlement houses, and public health groups to isolate the birth control clinic from the larger narrative of the moment. By revealing how clinics tested, treated, and educated women regarding contraceptives, she shows how clinic operation differed according to the needs and concerns of the districts it served.
Moving thematically through the politicized issues of the birth control movement, Hajo infuses her analysis of the practical and medical issues of the clinics with unique stories of activists who negotiated with community groups to obey local laws and navigated the swirling debates about how birth control centers should be controlled, who should receive care, and how patients should be treated.