Planning the American Family: The Politics of Government Family Planning Programs from the Great Society to the New Right

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Planning the American Family: The Politics of Government Family Planning Programs from the Great Society to the New Right

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Title: Planning the American Family: The Politics of Government Family Planning Programs from the Great Society to the New Right
Author: Rodberg, Josie
Citation: Rodberg, Josie. 2013. Planning the American Family: The Politics of Government Family Planning Programs from the Great Society to the New Right. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation examines the creation and development of the United States government's Title X family planning program from 1965 to 1988. It argues that Title X became controversial when its supporters shifted their focus from promoting family self-sufficiency to celebrating individual reproductive freedom. The new individualist arguments profoundly threatened many Americans who wanted government policy to support the patriarchal nuclear family. Support for federally-subsidized family planning programs in the 1960s rested on an ideology of nuclear family economic independence. Advocates reasoned that birth control services would enable poor Americans, especially African-Americans, to have children only within stable, self-sufficient marriages. Using these arguments, family planning advocates developed nearly-unanimous support for family planning programs among federal policymakers. In the early 1970s, though, family planning supporters embraced feminist and anti-racist critiques of their earlier ideas, leading them to promote subsidized family planning as a route to individual women’s reproductive freedom. In turn, the dissertation examines the growth of the New Right in reaction to the new liberal focus on individual freedom. While some dissenters had opposed family planning programs in the 1960s, this opposition mushroomed in the 1970s as opponents identified Title X as a threat to the family. Family planning opponents focused on two aspects of subsidized birth control programs that endangered the patriarchal nuclear family: abortion and teenagers’ access to contraception. Both of these issues jeopardized the husband’s and father’s authority over his dependents. In addition, opponents claimed that federal government spending on Title X overused their tax dollars, compromising their own ability to be self-sufficient and, thus, the survival of their own independent nuclear families. As a result, they mobilized in opposition to Title X in the 1970s and 1980s. The dissertation uses a wide variety of archival materials, government documents, and published sources to document the trajectory of debates over federally-funded family planning programs
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:11004924
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