Birth Control
by Aharon W. Zorea
January 2012, 216pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-36254-5
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-36255-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

For most of the 19th century, birth control was not considered a health or medical issue; all prohibitions and prosecutions regarding birth control were implemented under obscenity laws. One such law, the Comstock Act of 1873, banned the distribution of contraceptives as well as information about contraceptives. Well over 100 years later, birth control is still a highly sensitive subject.

Intended as a reference tool for college students, this book examines the origins of and controversies associated with birth control in the United States.

Issues regarding access to, education about, and practice of birth control have played a pivotal role in religious, social, and political conflicts throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 21st century, controversies surrounding birth control remain at the forefront of current political debates over topics as varied as women’s rights, social welfare initiatives, federal healthcare funding, consumer protection and physician liability, and informed consent.

Birth Control provides a historical background of premodern practices, describes birth control in the 19th–20th centuries, and discusses all currently available types of contraceptive systems, including both artificial and natural methods. The treatment of contemporary public debates on birth control addresses questions posed on practical, ethical, religious, and moral grounds, presented respectfully and in a balanced fashion.


  • Contains 20 primary document excerpts divided into 8 thematic categories, including early birth-control manuals, essays by Margaret Sanger, papal encyclicals, federal statutes, Supreme Court cases, and executive orders from 4 presidents on the subject of birth control
  • Provides a bibliography of sources for additional research
  • Includes a glossary and index for quick access to information about specific topics and terms
Aharon W. Zorea is associate professor in history at the University of Wisconsin, Richland, WI. His specialties include 20th-century American politics, law, and social policy. His published works include In the Image of God: A Christian Response to Capital Punishment.


"Overall, Birth Control is a balanced, fair source of information on birth control topics in social and political areas, presenting an accessible, introductory overview, rather than taking a stand or advocating a certain agenda. This volume is most appropriate for high school, college, and public libraries."—ARBA, January 1, 2013

"An excellent overview of birth control and related controversies over time. . . . This book serves as an excellent research starter and source for some important related primary documents. Focusing less on the science of birth control and more on related ethical and social issues, it would be useful for students in a variety of social science and humanities courses."—Choice, July 1, 2012

"Zorea navigates the issues from a historical perspective in an informative and neutral tone. This excellent overview makes a complex topic understandable and is suitable for general readers and undergraduates."—Library Journal, May 1, 2012

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