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date: 16 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The history of reproductive politics in the United States incorporates several centuries of struggle and resistance and virtually no periods of quiescence. The state and other institutions have frequently clashed within and against each other and with girls and women, over who has primary power to govern female sexuality, fertility, and maternity: institutions, or women themselves. These struggles have always been racialized. From the eighteenth century forward, authorities have promulgated laws and public policies embedding population-control aims, investing some groups with greater reproductive value than others. In the modern era, “choice” emerged as the mark of reproductive freedom, chiefly defined as the right to limit and terminate pregnancy. More recently, “reproductive justice” contends that all people have the human right to be a parent; to forgo parenting; and to access the resources required to exercise the first two rights with dignity and safety.

Keywords: reproductive justice, population control, human rights, race, motherhood, sexuality, eugenics

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