"One of the Proudest Achievements:" Organized Birth Control in Indiana, 1870s to 1950s

Date
2006
Language
American English
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M.A.
Degree Year
2006
Department
Department of History
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Indiana University
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Abstract

Local birth control advocates often found themselves attempting to open birth control clinics in restrictive climates that did not welcome open discussions of sexuality. To accomplish this, the organizers chose their tactics carefully and followed common strategies. After a few stumbles, organized birth control in many states began in earnest in the 1930s. By 1943, just ten years after its opening, the Indianapolis birth control clinic could boast that it had served 4,531 women and openly solicit funds from the community. The Maternal Health League’s plea on its fundraising brochure assured citizens of their patriotic duty to help. The league reminded Hoosiers, “In War and In Peace a Nation is as Strong as the Health of Its Mothers and Children.” Arguments such as these allowed the clinic to open and assured its existence for many years to come. Indiana birth control organizers relied on specific tactics that allowed them to accomplish their goals in a restrictive Midwestern state. Indiana’s birth control story offers modern-day readers a very different picture than that offered by studies of the national movement of birth control. Indiana offers an account that relies more on cooperation and less on confrontation.

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Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
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