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Gender Centre

The Gospel of Birth Control: Prophets, Patients, and the Global Family Planning Movement

This project explores the rise of transnational birth control campaigns, family planning activism, and reproductive health/rights movements from the 1920s onwards.

Moving beyond the most famous advocates, this project will use the archives of international organizations, papers of select local family planning clinics/programs, and oral histories to examine how these campaigns were shaped by a much wider range of actors, including fieldworkers who fanned out across the globe to spread “the gospel of birth control”; local nurses and women’s health activists who organized sex education classes in their communities; religious leaders who supported family planning from the pulpit; and doctors who found themselves becoming outspoken abortion law reform activists.  These “middle” men and women served as a critical bridge between international/state funded programs and local communities, while also building transnational networks that fuelled the exchange of ideas and strategies across borders.  As practitioners and/or prophets for the cause, they were on the frontlines of both shifting international paradigms and the practice of reproductive control on the ground.