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Reproductive health, birth control, and fertility change in Sweden, circa 1900-1940
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Population Studies (CPS).
2010 (English)In: The History of the Family, ISSN 1081-602X, Vol. 15, no 2, 161-173 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article deals with two aspects of reproductive health during the latter part of the Swedish fertility decline: failing health as a motive for birth control, and failing health as a possible consequence of illegal abortions. The main argument is that reproductive health was an important factor in most reproductive decisions during this period, a circumstance largely ignored by researchers of the fertility decline. Questions that are addressed include: How can aspects of reproductive health be viewed as explanatory factors of the fertility decline? How did men react to women's need to stop bearing children for health reasons? Flow did couples seeking abortion, sometimes for health reasons, perceive the risks associated with abortion? A source material mainly consisting of letters, written in the 1930s and sent to the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, has been used to discern how aspects of health, contraception and abortion were experienced by ordinary men and women. The analysis shows that reproductive health became a motive for birth control, at this point in history, for at least two reasons. Firstly, the experience of childbirth had changed through institutionalization and secularization and, secondly, respectable masculinity was increasingly constructed to include sexual respect towards women. Still, when couples decided to abort, aspects of health were largely ignored. Often abortion was sought because the health risks associated with childbirth were perceived as larger than those associated with abortion. The connection between reproductive health and birth control was, therefore, of a rather complex kind.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2010. Vol. 15, no 2, 161-173 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, Fertility decline, Reproduction, Health, Birth control, Abortion
National Category
History Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109027DOI: 10.1016/j.hisfam.2010.01.001ISI: 000286776000004OAI: diva2:857575
Available from: 2015-09-29 Created: 2015-09-17 Last updated: 2015-09-29Bibliographically approved

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Kling, Sofia
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