This article restores pregnancy testing to its significant position in the history of the women’s liberation movement in 1970s Britain. It shows how feminists appropriated the pregnancy test kit, a medical technology which then resembled a small chemistry set, and used it as a political tool for demystifying medicine, empowering women and providing a more accessible, less judgmental alternative to the N.H.S. While the majority of testees were young women hoping for a negative result, many others were older, menopausal women as well as those anxious to conceive. By following the practice of pregnancy testing, I show that, at the grassroots level, local women’s centres were in the vanguard of not only access to contraception and abortion rights, but also awareness about infertility and menopause.
… Many G.P.s also prescribed, on the N.H.S., Schering’s ‘Primodos,’ a ‘hormonal pregnancy test’ in tablet form that was less expensive and faster than ordering a urine test. The drug, which worked by inducing menstruation in non-pregnant women (a ‘negative’ result), was taken off the market in 1978 amidst concerns that it caused a variety of birth defects. Primodos Was a Revolutionary Oral Pregnancy Test: But Was It Safe? …
- … continue reading Jesse Olszynko-Gryn‘s full paper The feminist appropriation of pregnancy testing in 1970s Britain on tandfonline and/or download the PDF.
- Featured image of the Pregnosticon Planotest credit tandfonline.