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HIS 11 — The History of Reproductive Rights in the United States

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Feb 7—Mar 7
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Feb 9
Unit: 1
Tuition: $295
Instructor(s): Margo Horn
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Feb 7—Mar 7
5 weeks
Refund Date
Feb 9
1 Unit
Margo Horn
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Since the late 19th century, a woman’s right to control her intimate reproductive life in the United States has emerged as a publicly contested arena. This conflict and the stakes for reproductive rights have never been more fraught than in our present moment, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court in June 2022. This course explores the long history of women’s reproductive lives in the US as the context for that struggle. Topics include the history of women’s sexuality, birth control, abortion, childbirth, and motherhood.

We will begin with an overview of ideas of women’s sexuality from the 18th century through the present. We then turn to the history of contraceptives and abortion, which formed the backdrop for public regulation of this private realm by the end of the 19th century. We continue to the early 20th century, with Emma Goldman’s crusade for birth control and Margaret Sanger’s opening of the first public birth control clinic in the United States, in 1916. Women’s reproductive lives were medically controlled through most of the 20th century. We will examine women’s personal experience of these processes, the religious, legal, and policy frameworks that sought to control them, and the many feminist movements that emerged to protect women’s reproductive rights. We will conclude with recent court cases leading to the overturning of Roe in the Dobbs case and the future landscape for reproductive rights in the United States.

Stanford Continuing Studies has lowered the tuition for this course as part of our mission to increase access to education around issues related to social justice.

Lecturer, Programs in American Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Stanford

Margo Horn specializes in the history of women, the history of family, and the social history of medicine and psychiatry. Her research concerns the history of women physicians in the US, the history of single women in 20th-century America, and the history of women and mental illness in America during the same period. She is the author of Before It's Too Late: The Child Guidance Movement in the United States, 1922-1945. She received an MA and PhD from Tufts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Rickie Solinger, Pregnancy and Power, Revised Edition: A History of Reproductive Politics in the United States, Revised 2019 (ISBN 978-1479866502)