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The Bedroom and the State: The Changing Practices and Politics of Contraception and Abortion in Canada, 1880-1997 (2nd edition)

by Angus Mclaren Arlene T. Mclaren

The decline of the birth rate is arguably the most important social change of the twentieth century in Canada. The Bedroom and the State, first published in 1986, examines the social, cultural, and technological reasons for this decline and answers such questions as:* What forms of contraception were used prior to the Pill?* How widespread and dangerous has abortion been?* Why were so many feminists, socialists, ministers, and doctors initially opposed to birth control?* Who were its first proponents in Canada?* Why has Quebec's birth rate fallen so precipitiously?* Why was contraception illegal until 1969?The Bedroom and the State is recognized as a landmark history of how Canadian men and women sought to limit births and how public figures sought to turn such concern to political purposes. In this second edition the authors have updated their conclusion and added a new chapter to cover denouementof the pro-choice/pro-life debate in Canada, to detail recent court challenges to Canadian law, and to describe recent developments in reproductive technologies and their significance for present and future generations.This excellent work reveals that the control of fertility has been a crucial factor in the history of the shifting power relationships of the sexes and the classes.

Our Own Master Race

by Angus Mclaren

Was Canada immune to the racist currents of thought that swept central Europe in the 1920's and 1930's? In this landmark book Angus McLaren, co-author of The Bedroom and the State, examines the pervasiveness in Canada of the eugenic notion of "race betterment" and demonstrates that many Canadians believed that radical measures were justified to protect the community from the "degenerate." The sterilization of the feeble-minded in Alberta and British Columbia was merely the most dramatic attempt to limit the numbers of the "unfit." But in the decades prior to World War Two, eugenic preoccupations were to colour discussions of immigration restriction, birth control, mental testing, family allowances, and a host of similar social policies. Doctors, psychiatrists, geneticists, social workers, and mental hygienists provided an anxious Canadian middle class with the reassuring argument that poverty, crime, prostitution, and mental retardation were primarily the products of defective genes, not a defective social system. In explaining why biological solutions were sought for social problems McLaren not only provides a provocative reappraisal of the ideas and activities of a generation of feminists, political progressives, and public health propagandists but he also explores some of the roots of our not-so-latent racist tendencies.

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