Dangerous Pregnancies: How an Epidemic Pushed Forward Women’s Reproductive Rights

Lecture Description

Reagan chronicles for the first time the discoveries and dilemmas of the German Measles epidemic of the early 1960s and how it created national anxiety about dying, disabled, and “dangerous” babies. This epidemic would ultimately transform abortion politics, produce new science, and help build two of the most enduring social movements of the late twentieth century–the reproductive rights and the disability rights movements. At most a minor rash and fever for women, German measles (also known as rubella), if contracted during pregnancy, could result in miscarriages, infant deaths, and serious birth defects in the newborn.
In exploring a disease that changed America, Reagan illuminates social movements that still shape individual lives, pregnancy, medicine, law, and politics.


Public Health and Disease Social Movements

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