Heather Munro Prescott

The Morning After

A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States

Rutgers University Press 2011

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network April 16, 2012 Bruce Wark

What would a Presidential campaign be without a good dose of reproductive politics? To be sure, many of us are surprised to see contraception,...

What would a Presidential campaign be without a good dose of reproductive politics? To be sure, many of us are surprised to see contraception, and not just abortion, called into question – but maybe that’s because the intensity of abortion politics has allowed us to forget just how recently the issue of contraception was as fraught as the issue of abortion. And in any case, recent tussles over teen access to over-the-counter emergency contraception might have reminded us that debates about contraception are hardly closed.

In her new book The Morning After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States (Rutgers University Press, 2011), Heather Munro Prescott helps us to understand the politics of emergency contraception. Initially a side-product from research into infertility, hormonal contraceptives – both the “regular” and the “emergency” kind – became the subject of heated battles in the 1960s and 1970s. Feminist health care advocates protested that the medical establishment was pushing potentially unsafe medications on women who were not fully informed of side-effects. With conservatives’ attack on reproductive rights starting in the 1980s, however, feminist health care advocates and the medical profession became allies in the battle for continued access. This alliance bore results in the first decade of the twenty-first century, as the FDA reluctantly agreed to approve over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception (although not for minors).

Heather Munro Prescott is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University. If you care about reproductive rights, you’ll want to take a look at her book.

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