I’m reading a book right now about the history of attempts at controlling the world’s population (Fatal Misconception by Matthew Connelly – I recommend it) and just came across some pretty disturbing quotes related to promoting IUD use in developing countries. I’m not exactly a fan of any birth control method, given that they all seem to pose much greater risks to women than men (yes, even condoms), but I have an IUD and don’t completely hate it. However, having it inserted might have been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I think doing it to someone against her will, without informing her of the potential dangers, or without providing follow-up care ought to carry the death penalty. But for the men of the ’50s and ’60s hubristic enough to think they ought to be in charge of who would reproduce and in what conditions, women’s bodily sovereignty and health seemed not to matter quite as much as their desire to live in a world in which they weren’t out-numbered by brown people. Check this shit out.
Alan Guttmacher, then president of Planned Parenthood-World Population, at a 1964 conference on the safety of IUDs (205):
As I see it, the IUD’s have special application to underdeveloped areas where two things are lacking: one, money and the other sustained motivation. No contraceptive could be cheaper, and also, once the damn thing is in the patient cannot change her mind. In fact, we can hope she’ll forget it’s there and perhaps in several months wonder why she has not conceived.
That’s fucked enough, but check out this quote from J. Robert Wilson, then chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Temple University (202-203):
We have to stop functioning like doctors, thinking about the one patient with pelvic inflammatory disease; or the one patient who might develop this, that, or the other complication from an intra-uterine device. [It] may well be that the incidence of infection is going to be pretty high in the patients who need the device most. Now, obviously, if we are going to use these devices, they are occasionally going to be put in the wrong patient. Again, if we look at this from an over-all, long-range view (these are things that I have never said out loud before and I don’t know how it’s going to sound), perhaps the individual patient is expendable in the general scheme of things, particularly if the infection she acquires is sterilizing but not lethal.
I know it’s no surprise that men in power in the US in the 1960s (and, really, at all other times in all other places) didn’t think women — especially non-white and poor ones — were human, but Jesus Christ, dude.