Review from ROAPE Volume 15 Number 42
Reproductive Rights and Wrongs (Hartmann)


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Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control and Contraceptive Choice by Betsy Hartmann
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Vol.15 No.42 (Summer 1988), pp109-111
Despite a strong showing in print by political economists of health, there are surprisingly few books critical of the birth control movement - Mahmood Mamdani's 1972 classic ‘The Myth of Population Control’ , ‘Population Target’ by Bonnie Mass, ‘And the Poor Get Children’ edited by Karen Michaelson, come to mind. The women's movement is slightly more prolific, though usually more parochial - Linda Gordon's social history of birth control in the United States, ‘Woman's Body, Woman's Right’ , Barbara Seaman's books about sex hormones and the pill, Roz Petchesky's ‘Abortion and Woman's Choice’ , and a host of others about women's experiences with the health care system, many of which discuss the birth control movement. Given the centrality of population issues to development plans and to women's lives, this lapse is astonishing. Part of the explanation lies in Marxists’ confusion about the question, which is often answered by a rigid anti-Malthusianism ('socialism will end poverty and therefore solve the population problem’ ), a response that totally ignores women's concerns.