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The Selling of Contraception: The Dalkon Shield Case, Sexuality, and Women's Autonomy (Women and Health: Cultural and Social Perspectives) Hardcover – July, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
"It's not a matter of being an informed consumer; it's a matter of being a cynic to save your life," comments one of the women here who used the Dalkon Shield, the intrauterine contraceptive device that killed, maimed, made infertile or simply sickened women in the U.S. and around the world during the 1970s and early 1980s. In this riveting, comprehensive study, Grant, who teaches sociology at Ball State University in Indiana, explores how the Dalkon Shield and other contraceptives were irresponsibly promoted by profit-seeking physicians, drug companies and population control groups. She finds that independent, educated women were among the victims, taken in as they attempted to wrest control of their procreative destiny from men. They endured their progressive torment, entranced by the words "safe and effective" and assured by their doctors that the pain would go away. Reviewing the thought of such prominent feminist thinkers as Barbara Ehrenreich and Andrea Dworkin, Grant calls for the displacement of coitus as the sine qua non of sexual experience to reduce the chronic need for medical contraception.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A feminist asks: Why did women use the now discredited Dalkon Shield, and is the Dalkon Shield case unique? Grant (Sociology/Ball State Univ.), whose anger is evident but controlled, ``studied the problem from the top down, from the ground up, and from the inside out.'' To answer her first question, she looked at the personal lives of 17 women (12 of them Shield users), conducting lengthy interviews with them about their experiences with intrauterine devices and other forms of birth control. Grant found that, for them, a central issue was the conflict between protecting and controlling their procreative powers: Concerns about harmful side effects of oral contraceptives and the ineffectiveness of traditional methods apparently have led many women to accept IUDs. To answer her second question, Grant examined the development of contraceptives in general and of IUDs in particular. She studied ``expert'' opinion as expressed in popular magazines, family-planning literature, medical journals, and reports by Congress and the FDA. Here, she reports briefly on the actions of the A.H. Robins Corporation, which manufactured the Shield, but looks beyond the specifics to general economic interests, the social and political context, and especially, the nation's health-care system. Grant concludes that the Dalkon Shield case was no anomaly; the forces that produced it, she says, are alive and well and ``endanger all consumers in a capitalist economy.'' But her main concern here is the welfare of women--for whom, she notes, heterosexual intercourse is a risky activity, pitting possible pregnancy against possible harm from contraceptives. Grant concludes with some suggestions for reducing those risks. Impressively researched: a worthy addition to the study of women's need for increased control of their own lives. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.