A Brave New World?: Reproductive Politics from the Past to the Present

Susan Markens

in Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780520252035
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940970 | DOI:
A Brave New World?: Reproductive Politics from the Past to the Present

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The family is the institution whose future is perhaps the most regularly described as being in jeopardy in America. Contemporary worries about the threat to the normative family, and to its place as the cornerstone of the nation, have parallels in the late nineteenth- and earlier twentieth-century alarm over women's declining fertility and the subsequent interventions to boost childbearing levels. And much as in the late 1800s, contemporary reproductive politics is characterized by race- and class-specific concerns. Early twentieth-century anxiety about declining fertility was focused on the declining fertility of white, middle-class women and the concomitant rise in immigration from southern and eastern Europe. These fears promoted a campaign against “race suicide.” More recent concerns about issues such as delayed marriage and childbearing, increased infertility, and the lack of “adoptable” babies also are clearly focused on the reproduction of white, middle-class families.

Keywords: jeopardy; fertility; Europe; race suicide; interventions

Chapter.  4673 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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