Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UC Research Examines Eugenics Past and Present, Driven by Race, Class, Economics

10.11.2011
UC historian Wendy Kline will present her case study research on coercive birth control used as a form of eugenics. She will present that research at an international conference in Europe on Nov. 11.

Eugenics – the science of improving the human population via selective breeding or reproduction – is not a concept confined to past centuries and decades, nor to locales outside the United States.

That’s the finding of recent research by University of Cincinnati historian Wendy Kline, who will present a case study on the topic – a case study that examines the use of the controversial contraceptive injection, Depo-Provera, as a eugenic tool – on Nov. 11 at a conference titled “The Study of Eugenics: Past, Present and Future” to be held in Uppsala, Sweden. Her presentation is titled “Bodies of Evidence: Activists, Patients, and the FDA Regulation of Depo-Provera.”

It’s research that is particularly timely given that recent national news coverage has featured North Carolina’s current plans to compensate surviving victims of forced sterilizations that took place there from the 1920s to the 1970s.

UC HISTORIAN'S CASE STUDY ON 1983 DEPO-PROVERA HEARINGS
Kline’s research into the debate surrounding Depo-Provera in the 1970s and 1980s began when she was visiting the Smith College Women’s History Archive where she found a large box of materials still unprocessed and not yet catalogued. This was among 50 to 60 boxes from the National Women’s Health Network.

She recalled, “The box contained hundreds of individual files, each detailing a woman’s difficulties with the side effects of Depo-Provera or detailing how she had not been informed of those side effects or detailing how she had been given the injection without her consent or by means of manipulation. This coercion, lack of informed consent and testing of the drug has obviously been gathered together in preparation for a class-action suit by the National Women’s Health Network that had never gone forward.”

But the collection did provide Kline with a rich source of material of examining the history of this contraceptive and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s public board of inquiry on Depo-Provera held in 1983.

“The use of Depo-Provera captures all of the controversy of this century regarding controlling fertility and who’s ultimately making the decision about who gets to reproduce. My research looks at coercion, risks not fully understood and how arguments were made for and against Depo-Provera at the time,” she explained.

For instance, it was in the Depo-Provera hearings in Washington that the manufacturer and those in favor of the drug had to first contend with the greater organizational powers and force of the feminist movement – but where that feminist movement had to argue its case by focusing narrowly on the flaws in the scientific research methodology applied when testing Depo-Provera.

In other words, those combating the use of Depo-Provera could not make a case against the drug based on morality or sentiment even though it could easily have been argued that this was a case of eugenics since the testing of the drug in the 1970s at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital Family Planning Clinic involved mostly black women in public assistance.

Instead, because of FDA strictures related to evidence supplied at its board of inquiry hearings, opponents of the drug had to channel their arguments on the science then available on Depo-Provera.

“Of course,” said Kline, “It was and is very difficult to separate science from the society that produced it. There was a reason, given the understood risks of Depo-Provera, that its testing was done on poor women in the U.S. and on women in developing countries.”

Still, at the Depo-Provera hearings of 1983, those against the use of Depo-Provera were able to introduce the concept that the FDA’s established cost/benefit analysis of a drug should include quality of life issues and that dismissing female patient’s complaints about crippling side effects was not just “sexist,” it was bad science.

Another outcome of the FDA 1983 inquiry into Depo-Provera and the publicity surrounding the hearings was the first national conference on black women’s health held in Atlanta in 1983.

The larger message, according to Kline, is that eugenics is more than simply an embarrassing mistake of the past. The popular belief that technology and regulation of sexual fertility would lead to healthier, stronger, more self-reliant population carried over in the 1970s, ‘80s and even today.

Kline's research was funded by a Harvard University Countway Library of Medicine, a Summer Research Fellowship from the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center at UC and a UC Research Council Grant.

M.B. Reilly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>