Birth Control

Historically, abortion has been widely used as a method of limiting births, although the methods prescribed were not always effective. Perhaps the earliest recorded incident of an abortive technique is found in the royal archives of China about five thousand years ago. Abortifacients were included in an Egyptian medical papyrus of 1550 b.c.e. Technically both […]

birth control

INTRODUCTION All living things from microbes to humans have to reproduce themselves to maintain survival of the species. In the higher animals, although it takes two individuals of different sex to engage in reproduction, most of the burden falls on the female, from the egg-laying birds to the pregnant mammals. Pregnancy then is a natural, […]

Abortion in the Nineteenth Century (birth control)

Until the nineteenth century, folk remedies for abortion and superstitions about abortion essentially remained unchanged over the centuries. In the nineteenth century the selling of abortive products became a commercial business, although older more interventionist methods continued to be available. Technically, most of the remedies available did not mention the word abortion but went under […]

Abortion and Birth Control Clinics

When the first birth control clinics in the United States were opened in the 1920s, there was concern over what was called “overdues,” that is, women who came to the clinic after having missed a menstrual period and were usually pregnant. Hannah Stone, as medical director of the Clinical Research Bureau in New York City, […]

Abortion in the Twentieth Century (birth control)

The first country to legalize abortion in the twentieth century was the Soviet Union. In November 1920, after Vladimir Lenin, the first head of the USSR, insisted that no woman should be forced to bear a child against her will and that women should be guaranteed the right of deciding pregnancy for themselves, abortion was […]

Age at Pregnancy (birth control)

In the past, few women beyond their middle forties have given birth to children, although a small minority have become pregnant at still later dates. There are several undocumented claims of women in their seventies having children, but historians have been reluctant to accept such cases, if only because those that have been investigated in […]

African Slaves in the United States and Birth Control

Little appears in the source material about contraceptives used by African slaves in America, but it was certainly believed by their European owners that their slaves used something. Herbert Guttman (1976, pp. 80-81) quotes a Georgia physician in the 1840s saying that abortion and miscarriage were more common among slaves than they were among free […]

Abstinence (birth control)

The most obvious way to avoid either becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant is to abstain from sex. This in essence has been the Christian remedy, and lifelong abstinence is still encouraged among such groups as Catholic priests and nuns. In the past, however, only a few societies have been either willing or able to […]

American Birth Control League

The American Birth Control League was established by Margaret Sanger in 1921, and she served as its president until 1928. Its first conference was held in New York City in 1921, timed to coincide with the convention of the American Public Health Association. Before the main event of the conference could be held, the entrance […]

Ancient Civilizations and Birth Control

The earliest medical writing from Egypt, the Kahun Medical Papyrus, dates from 1850 b.c.e. It includes three fragments of prescriptions designed to prevent pregnancy. All of them deal with suppositories. One provides for the feces of crocodile to be smashed up and mixed with fermented dough; another provides for honey mixed with soda or saltpeter; […]