More Than Medicine: A History of the Feminist Women's Health Movement

More Than Medicine: A History of the Feminist Women's Health Movement

by Jennifer Nelson


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In 1948, the Constitution of the World Health Organization declared, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Yet this idea was not predominant in the United States immediately after World War II, especially when it came to women’s reproductive health. Both legal and medical institutions—and the male legislators and physicians who populated those institutions—reinforced women’s second class social status and restricted their ability to make their own choices about reproductive health care.

In More Than Medicine, Jennifer Nelson reveals how feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s applied the lessons of the new left and civil rights movements to generate a women’s health movement. The new movement shifted from the struggle to revolutionize health care to the focus of ending sex discrimination and gender stereotypes perpetuated in mainstream medical contexts. Moving from the campaign for legal abortion to the creation of community clinics and feminist health centers, Nelson illustrates how these activists revolutionized health care by associating it with the changing social landscape in which women had power to control their own life choices.

More Than Medicine poignantly reveals how social justice activists in the United States gradually transformed the meaning of health care, pairing traditional notions of medicine with less conventional ideas of “healthy” social and political environments.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814770665
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 03/06/2015
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,170,235
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Nelson is Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Redlands (CA).

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. “Medicine May Be the Way We Got in the Door”: Social Justice and Community Health in the Mid-1960s 15

2. “Thank You for Your Help . . . Six Children Are Enough”: The Abortion Birth Control Referral Service 57

3. Reproductive Control, Sexual Empowerment: The Aradia Women’s Health Center and the Early Movement for Feminist Health Reform 91

4. Conserving Feminist Health Care, Confronting Anti-Abortion: The Atlanta Feminist Women’s Health Center 123

5. “All This That Has Happened to Me Shouldn’t Happen to Nobody Else”: Loretta Ross and the Women of Color Reproductive Freedom Movement of the 1980s 167

6. Women of Color and the Movement for Reproductive Justice: A Human Rights Agenda 193

Notes 221

Index 253

About the Author 265

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