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Lecture 10

WGST 1F90 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Sexual Sterilization Act Of Alberta, Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill, Leilani Muir

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Jenny Janke

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WGST 1F90 Reproduction: Obtaining and Preventing March 16, 2016
Reproduction: Obtaining and Preventing
Reminders & Agenda
A Brief History the Big Little Pill. Write down only points bolded in
Introduction & Embodied Subjects
Film “The Sterilization of Leiliani Muir” (45 minutes).
Remainder of Lecture
A Very Brief History of the Big Little Pill
1. Oral contraceptive was introduced in May 1950; a medical innovation that
has dramatically transformed generations.
2. Animal experiments in the late 1930s demonstrated that high-dose
progesterone could arrest ovulation.
3. Chemists synthesized progestin from an extract of Mexican wild yam root in
the late 1940s, and the concept of arresting ovulation in women became
4. The 1950s: a time of very little choice for women.
5. Even if a woman was fortunate enough to make it to university, she would
often attain a career primarily as a wife, with the prospect of 3 decades of
6. The Pill was initially market for “cycle control”; socially, legally, and
politically contraceptive was taboo.
7. In the US, the Comstock Law prohibited public discussion and research
about contraception. This was a controversial and outdated law, established in
many US states since 1873, that defined obscenity and was enacted to control
the sale and distribution of obscene materials.
8. In Canada, under the 1892 Criminal Code, any discussion of birth control
was illegal a nd in fact was considered obscene , “tending to corrupt morals.”
9. The pill was available by 1960 for “menstrual regulation,”
10. Illegal to discuss contraception or prescribe the pill for contraception until
1969, when the Canadian parliament decriminalized contraception by passing
amendments to Section 251 of the Criminal Code.
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WGST 1F90 Reproduction: Obtaining and Preventing March 16, 2016
11. Only married women could be prescribed the pill for birth control.
12. Physicians could prescribe hormones for any reason other than birth
control (eg., menstrual irregularity). If they prescribed the pill for birth control,
they were breaking the law.
13. In 1968, Pope Paul VI released the Catholic Church’s first official position
on the birth control pill. Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) condemned the pill as
an “artificial” means of birth control and, thus, as sinful.
14. Safety concerns were raised as early as 1934 regarding venous
thromboembolism (VTE), and were raised again in the Puerto Rican trials, but
by 1967, serious side effects were just being acknowledged.
15. The first marketed pill, Enovid 10, contained 9.85 mg of the progestin
norethynodrel and 150 µg of the estrogen mestranol.
16. Today’s pills contain dramatically lower hormone doses—0.1 to 3.0 mg of
modern progestins and 20 to 50 µg of estrogens.
17. Public trust of medicine was shattered by the self-determination envisioned
in the feminist movement, and Barbara Seaman’s The Doctor’s Case Against
the Pill publicly outed the scandal of trials performed without informed consent
and hushed side effects.
18. Public trust in the medical world was shaken again in 1974 by the dangers
discovered after marketing the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device.
19. This nonhormonal birth control method proved to have risks of permanent
infertility and had to be pulled from the market after 3 short years. Safe
choices in contraception remained a tricky issue.
20. By the 1990s, there was steady demand for the pill, and new hormone
delivery systems were released—implants, intrauterine systems, injectables,
and rings.
21. Implants were on the market in Canada only from 1991-2000; they were
removed owing to concerns about contraceptive efficacy due to manufacturing
22. They remain available worldwide.
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WGST 1F90 Reproduction: Obtaining and Preventing March 16, 2016
23. In 1992, Depo-Provera was approved for use as a contraceptive agent. The
2000s brought contraceptive patches and rings to Canada, and research on
sprays and gels elsewhere worldwide.
24. Four morning after pills currently available in Canada OTC.
Key Terms
Politics of the body.
Reproductive Justice.
Sexual Sterilization Act.
Unsafe Abortion.
Bill C-150.
Morgentaler Decision.
1. The issue of reproduction must be broadened; more than abortion and birth
control; the politics of the body.
2. Politics of the body: the right of wo/men to control their own bodies within a
variety of contexts: social, legal, medical and political.
3. Denying women the right to control their own bodies is a denial of basic
4. The politics of the body has been central to feminism and the achieving
rights for women and girls.
Reproductive Justice
1. The RJ framework – the right to have children, not have children, and to
parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments.
2. Based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life, and
the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are
suitable for implementing one’s decisions.
3. A shift for women from a narrower focus on legal access and individual
choice to a broader analysis of racial, economic, cultural, and structural
constraints on our power.
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