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Internationalism and Health. Lecture:. Reproductive Health in the Interwar Period. Aaron Pascal Mauck MA, PhD. 3/5/2013. DATE. LECTURER. Reproductive Health before the War Margaret Sanger and Birth Control Eugenics and Reproduction WWI and Pronatalism

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Internationalism and health
Internationalism and Health


Reproductive Health in the Interwar Period

Aaron Pascal Mauck MA, PhD




Internationalism and health

Internationalism and health

Reproductive Health before the War

Interest in Infant Mortality coincides

With the rise of statistics in the

Middle of the nineteenth century.

Mortality becomes an index of


Focus centers on maternal behavior

And the socioeconomic conditions

Encountered by the infant/child

State & Private Welfare Agencies

Stress maternal responsibility

Maternity and childbirth become central objects of Progressive politics, integrating

A platform of behavior modification and social change as the means to reducing

Infant mortality

Maternal Health goals increasingly align with the Suffrage Movement and other

Claims for women’s independence

Maternal health discourse functions for both the political Left and political Right

Internationalism and health

Margaret Sanger’s Interest in Birth Control Derived

From her experience as a nurse working at the

Henry Street Settlement and witnessing the

destructive economic and physical effects of


Birth Control linked to multiple progressive social

causes: suffrage, socialism, equal pay, and sexual


Sanger became the most vocal advocate ofbirth

Control, seeking alliances with a wide variety of

Movements consistent with this political goal.

By the twenties, the birth control movement became

Global in scope, with efforts centered on Europe and

The US, but extending especially to Japan, China,

and India.

Sanger increasingly cultivates connections with the

Eugenics movement, which shares some (though

not all) of her goals.

Internationalism and health

Eugenics & Reproduction

The term “eugenics” and its basic principles

Developed by Francis Galton in 1883. Refererred

Loosely to the promotion of positive genetic

Qualities. Linked to the rise of population research

And genetics in the late nineteenth century

From the beginning, there was nothing like a

Singe eugenics movement, but early advocates

Of eugenics tended to be highly racialist and

Concerned with processes of social and

Biological degeneration caused by modernity

Many eugenicists advocated selective reproduction as a means of countering

Modern trends, either by promoting certain births (pronatalism) or by restricting

Births through a variety of social policies, including forced sterilization

Eugenics strove for scientific legitimacy from its inception, but its professionalization

Was limited by a lack of shared scientific foundation or social principles.

Internationalism and health

WWI and Pronatalism

WWI revolutionizes new anti-

personnel techniques aimed at

indiscriminate death of military and

Non-military alike: aerial bombing,

Blockade, forced labor.

Total Casualties from WWI

~ 37 Million. ~17 Million deaths,

Including ~ 7 Million Civilian deaths

Many war conscripts show signs of

disability, suggesting the need for

improved nutrition/public health

New war realities underscore the

Importance of population

Management as a form of

national defense

General Eric Ludendorff:

“Worse than the losses through the war is the decline in the figure of our population owing to the falling birth rate”

Internationalism and health

WWI and Pronatalism

Following WWI, several nations develop

Strongly pronatalist policies as a means of

Rebuilding their populations.

Pronatalist policies linked to a renewed interest

On nutrition and maternal health as the

Foundation of effective population promotion

Opposition to birth control becomes widespread

In Europe and the United States (“race suicide”),

encouraging Sanger and other advocates to

reframe their mission in international terms

Increasing alignment takes place between

Birth control advocates and eugenicists,

Largely linked to population control in the Global

South and among the dysgenic in the Global


Internationalism and health

Population Control and Internationalism

The Janus-Face of population management:

Pronatalism versus antinatalism

Challenges of technology: How to actually

Control births?

Homegrown eugenics: India, China, & Japan

Challenges of International coordination

And cooperation