by Betsy Hartmann
With a new prologue by the author, this feminist classic is an important gateway into the controversial topic of population for students, activists, researchers and policymakers. It challenges the myth of overpopulation, uncovering the deeper roots of poverty, environmental degradation and gender inequalities. With vivid case studies, it explores how population control programs came to be promoted by powerful governments, foundations and international agencies as an instrument of Cold War development and security policy. Mainly targeting poor women, these programs were designed to drive down birth rates as rapidly and cheaply as possible, with coercion often a matter of course. In the war on population growth, birth control was deployed as a weapon, rather than as a tool of reproductive choice.
Threaded throughout Reproductive Rights and Wrongs is the story of how international women's health activists fought to reform population control and promote a new agenda of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all people. While their efforts bore fruit, many obstacles remain. On one side is the anti-choice movement that wants to deny women access not only to abortion, but to most methods of contraception. On the other is a resurgent, well-funded population control lobby that often obscures its motives with the language of women's empowerment. Despite declining birth rates worldwide - average global family size is now 2.5 children - overpopulation alarm is on the rise, tied now to the threats of climate change and terrorism. Reproductive Rights and Wrongs helps readers understand how these contemporary developments are rooted in the longer history and politics of population control. In the pages of this book a new generation of readers will find knowledge, argumentation and inspiration that will help in ongoing struggles to achieve reproductive rights and social, environmental and gender justice.