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Wed 4 April
    8.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 5 April
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    19.00 - 20.15
    20.30 - 22.00

Fri 6 April
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

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Wednesday 4 April 2018 8.30 - 10.30
S-1 - SEX01a : Birth Control Movements and Activism in the Twentieth Century: Transnational Perspectives from Catholic Countries I
PFC/03/006B Sir Peter Froggatt Centre
Networks: Sexuality , Women and Gender Chair: Laura Kelly
Organizers: Agata Ignaciuk, Laura KellyDiscussant: Caroline Rusterholz
Anne-Sophie Crosetti : Pro Vita and Catholic Planned Parenthood: A Conflict on Abortion Right amidst Catholics Groups in Belgium (1960-1970)
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, profound debates arise in Belgium concerning birth regulation through legislation on contraception and abortion in particular. Catholic norms are at the time at stake both within and outside the Catholic world, even more since the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) and its symbolic ... (Show more)
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, profound debates arise in Belgium concerning birth regulation through legislation on contraception and abortion in particular. Catholic norms are at the time at stake both within and outside the Catholic world, even more since the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) and its symbolic ratification by the Belgian Catholic hierarchy. The Roman Church indeed remains uncompromising on the question of abortion and only accepts continence as a way to space pregnancies. History tends to remember the opposition between Catholics and supporters of organised laicity. Yet, the tension around abortion and contraception shook this binary vision by creating new lines of demarcation.
The creation of Pro Vita in the late 1960’s, a far right-wing, pro-life Catholic group which prohibits abortion and contraception, reveals a confrontation within the same ideological world. Other groups in charge of couples linked to the Catholic world, such as La Ligue des Familles (The Family League) and the CEFA (Centre d’Education à la Famille et à l’Amour – Centre of Family and Love Education) are at first perceived as allies. However, Pro Vita was in fact rejected by them, as they reproached the right-wing group for being too orthodox. The resulting tension between these organisations on the question of abortion is a way of understanding the different positions amidst Catholics in the 1960’s and 1970’s and how they condition the way these groups will deal with the issue of abortion. The reaction of the Belgian hierarchy to these groups also represents the changes during the 1970’s since the episcopate distanced itself from Pro Vita whilst also dissociating itself from the CEFA. It reveals the beginning of a fragmentation of the Catholic world as we know it on questions of sexuality. (Show less)

Sylwia Kuzma-Markowska : Local and International Activities of the Society for Conscious Motherhood in State-Socialist Poland
In a recent Polish blockbuster Sztuka kochania (The Art of Love), film’s main protagonist and sexologist Michalina Wislocka is chased by a group of outraged people led by a Catholic priest when she attempts to hand out diaphragms and condoms in one of small towns of 1970s Poland. Wis?ocka, who ... (Show more)
In a recent Polish blockbuster Sztuka kochania (The Art of Love), film’s main protagonist and sexologist Michalina Wislocka is chased by a group of outraged people led by a Catholic priest when she attempts to hand out diaphragms and condoms in one of small towns of 1970s Poland. Wis?ocka, who is now being reclaimed as a feminist heroine by the Polish women’s rights movement, was one of the most prominent activists of the Society for Conscious Motherhood (SCM), later renamed the Society for Family Planning. The Society, which was revived in 1957 during the moment of the political thaw, became the most vocal promoter of contraceptive information and devices in state-socialist Poland. Since the late 1950s until the collapse of communism, the SCM operated under the concurrent pressure of the Catholic Church and socialist authorities, running family planning clinics and publishing widely on birth control and sexual education.
In my paper I intend to scrutinize international as well as local activities of the SCM during state socialism, examining the impact of the Society’s foreign collaboration on its local undertakings. Since the 1950s the SCM’s leaders and doctors maintained professional relations with family planning activists from Western countries, Great Britain in particular. The visit of an English birth control champion Helena Wright in Poland in 1957 facilitated the establishment of the Polish organization and influenced the SCM’s contraceptive agenda in the years to come. Semi-formal international collaborations of Polish birth controllers with foreign activists and organizations were officially sanctioned in 1959 when the SCM became first Eastern European member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
In the 1960s and the subsequent decades, the Society was also gradually expanding its activities at the local level, establishing district branches and opening permanent medical facilities and rolling birth control services in various places of Poland. As the above-mentioned scene from Sztuka kochania indicates, the SCM’s contraceptive activism was encountering open hostility of the imperious Catholic Church authorities and rank members and a less openly voiced reticence of local general publics. A bunch of Polish birth controllers, Michalina Wislocka including, were nonetheless tirelessly trying to bring contraceptive knowledge to Polish small towns and the countryside, transferring the know-how and the devices that they at first studied and tested in London and other foreign cities. (Show less)

Lucia Pozzi : Practices, Discourses and Oppositions to Birth Control in Twentieth Century Italy
This paper tries to show how the debate about birth control was established in twentieth-century Italy and how deep were the roots of religious and cultural opposition to contraception.
In the first part I will describe the debate over birth control, focussing on the rise and the decline of the ... (Show more)
This paper tries to show how the debate about birth control was established in twentieth-century Italy and how deep were the roots of religious and cultural opposition to contraception.
In the first part I will describe the debate over birth control, focussing on the rise and the decline of the Italian neo-Malthusian League and showing how eugenic discourses conflated a number of different issues like sex education, birth control and sterilization. The topic was mainly discussed among scientists and academics, even though some practical information circulated among women. Compared to other cultural backgrounds, like that of the United States, where Margaret Sanger strove for women’s right to contraception, the Italian discussion on contraception was dominated by male scientists and politicians.
In the second part I will talk about 1927 Mussolini’s demographic campaign. His policies affected the discourses and punished the use and information about contraceptive practices. Indeed, in 1931 the new Penal Code banned them as crimes against the race. After the Second World War and the fall of Fascism this prohibition still remained unaltered in the Code until 1971, though not effectively applied. This permanence obviously affected the way the topic was addressed during the second half of the century. In addition to this official and cultural point of view on the topic, in 1930 Pope Pius XI sanctioned this public ban with his religious authority. He published an encyclical that for the first time established the teaching of the Catholic Church on birth control and endorsed Fascist demographic laws. My paper will especially aim at describing how Catholic and fascist authorities struggled against a possible open debate of the topic, where the gender issues were always central. (Show less)

Cassia Roth : Malthus in the Tropics: Sterilization, Medicine, and the Catholic Church
While the arrival of the Pill in the 1960s changed Brazilian women’s access to safe and reliable contraception, women had long sought to control their fertility. These attempts often clashed with the Catholic Church, the medical profession, and political strongmen who all rejected the idea that women should and could ... (Show more)
While the arrival of the Pill in the 1960s changed Brazilian women’s access to safe and reliable contraception, women had long sought to control their fertility. These attempts often clashed with the Catholic Church, the medical profession, and political strongmen who all rejected the idea that women should and could control their reproductive lives. This paper looks at how these actors debated and negotiated contraception in early twentieth-century Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by focusing on debates over temporary sterilization practices that made headlines in the country’s then-capital city. As stories of rogue physicians and unscrupulous midwives providing monthly sterilization treatments (for a fee) made their way to the press, the professionalizing medical profession used Catholic arguments both to condemn these practices and to solidify their moral standing in the public sphere. They rejected the church’s position that it could, and should, hold a moral mandate over health issues. Yet it used the church’s own arguments to continue to restrict women’s control over their reproduction. In particular, physicians supported women’s ‘natural’ maternal roles. They also believed that women were unable to make rational decisions about their reproductive lives. These debates foreshadowed later ones surrounding abortion and contraception access. Nevertheless, women, both as patients and midwives, continued to attempt to control their fertility through sterilization procedures. (Show less)