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Home » Books » Science » Medicine » Obstetrics & Gynecology

The Stork and the Syringe

Political History of Reproductive Medicine (Feminist Perspectives)

By Naomi Pfeffer

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Format: Paperback, 250 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 December 1993
Reproductive technology is typically discussed in the future tense. Yet doctors have always treated involuntary childlessness. This book looks at the recent history of infertility and the different ways medicine has treated it. It traces the reluctance to allow infertility a past to a new tension that has emerged between utopian and anti-utopian fears about the growth rate and composition of population.The Stork and the Syringe argues that although doctors' approach to infertility is formed in response to the exigencies of the political economy of medical practice, it also accommodates a persistent gender bias: the tendency to regard women's bodies as inviting intervention and men's as demanding caution. This bias is manifest in relation to gametes (eggs and sperm), sex hormones, in the form of medical investigations and treatment, and the frequency and enthusiasm with which the latter are carried out. Departures from this theme are rare and controversial, as the history of artificial insemination using donor semen demonstrates. This book is a major contribution to the history and sociology of reproduction, fertility, population and medicine.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. Talking about Infertility. 2. Norms and Deviations. 3. Images of Sterility. 4. Politics, Health and Sterility. 5. A Crutch in the Crotch. 6. Bank Accounts and Babies. Notes.

About the Author

Naomi Pfeffer writes about history and social policy. She has a long-standing interest in women's experience of infertility and the politics of reproductive medicine, and has written extensively on the subject. She was the co-author of The Experience of Infertility, written with Anne Woollett.


a Is a highly readable book, appealing to the general reader and essential for specialists in reproductive history.a Open Letters Bookclub a The Stork and the Syringe is an important contribution to the sociological and historical literature on women and reproduction.a Canadian Womena s Studies a Pfeffera s book is not only timely and invaluable for the current debates on the morality and efficacy of reproductive technology, but also provides a stimulating and provocative account for anyone interested in the wider history of the interaction between medicine, economics, politics and gender.a Medical History a Pfeffera s work greatly informs this debate. It shows how we have progressed beyond believing that women are under an obligation to have babies. It raises the question of whether we believe that they have the right, irrespective of costs, and despite any ethical and legal objections, to have them.a British Medical Journal a ... She offers much food for serious thought not least about the distortions and inequity in the poor NHS provision of infertility treatments ...a Multiple Births Foundation Newsletter a Uncovering some of the myths that have grown up around infertility is an important task lucidly and interestingly carried out by Naomi Pfeffer. Throughout this thoroughly annotated, but readable, account Pfeffer considers not only the attitudes of the medical profession, but also those of the political and religious establishments, and the financial implications.a Bulletin of Medical Ethics

EAN: 9780745611877
ISBN: 0745611877
Publisher: Polity Press
Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.7 x 1.5 centimetres (0.36 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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