Revolutionizing Women’s Healthcare : The Feminist Self-Help Movement in America

Revolutionizing Women’s Healthcare is the story of a feminist experiment: the self-help movement. This movement arose out of women’s frustration, anger, and fear for their health. Tired of visiting doctors who saw them as silly little girls, suffering shame when they asked for birth control, seeking abortions in back alleys, and holding little control over their own reproductive lives, women took action. Feminists created “self-help groups” where they examined each other’s bodies and read medical literature. They founded and ran clinics, wrote books, made movies, undertook nationwide tours, and raided and picketed offending medical institutions. Some performed their own abortions. Others swore off pharmaceuticals during menopause. Lesbian women found “at home” ways to get pregnant. Black women used self-help to talk about how systemic racism affected their health. Hannah Dudley-Shotwell engagingly chronicles these stories and more to showcase the creative ways women came together to do for themselves what the mainstream healthcare system refused to do.

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