The History of and Current (In)accessibility of Abortions in the United States

Meta Williams (2018) is a Biological Chemistry and Spanish double major at Grinnell College. Outside of academics, she runs, hikes, bakes and cooks; she prides herself on her ability to make vegetables appealing to non-vegetable eaters. Meta will be joining the AmeriCorps after graduation, and hopes to eventually attend medical school.

Abortion. Think about it: abortion. As an issue always on the forefront of the American collective conscious, abortion is about as loaded of a word as one can find. So what do you think when you think “abortion”? You may use words like “prolife” or “prochoice”. You may think “good” or “bad”, “immoral” or “necessary”.

You probably, however, did not think about “accessible”. Yet, the accessibility of abortion services and abortion clinics in perhaps one of the most important aspects of the abortion debate. Who can get one? How is it paid for? Where do you go to get one? These are all questions pertaining to the accessibility of abortive services and centers that perform abortions.

In 1973, the landmark US Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade recognized womyn’s constitutional right to abortion [1].  In subsequent years, the Supreme Court has upheld that decision, ruling that a state cannot ban abortion before the point at which a fetus can survive outside of the uterus. They also ruled that the restriction on abortion after this period may be overridden if the life of the womon is at risk, and that it is unconstitutional to place “undue burden” on a womon seeking an abortion [2].

Despite these laws, which have been repeatedly tested through our judicial system, Americans still are grappling with what to do about abortion. As of January 1st of this year, all but 10 states sported one or more of five major obstructions to abortion. In this post, I will break down each of the five so-called “Major Obstructions” and provide evidence that demonstrates that we, as a society, are not only failing the Roe v. Wade ruling, but also the thousands of womyn searching for an alternative to a pregnancy they cannot support, be it biologically, socially, financially or emotionally [3].

Before delving into these specific obstructions, however, I think it would be beneficial to review the pre-legal history of abortion in the United States. As Rachel Benson Gold and Megan K. Donovan report in their article “Lessons from before Abortion Was Legal”, the “history of abortion underscores the reality that the procedure has always been with us, whether or not it was against the law” [4].

In the 1700s and through the mid-1800s, abortion was permitted by states. In fact, before the criminalization of the procedure, aborting an early pregnancy was, actually, legal until an event called “quickening”, which was when the pregnant womon was able to feel the movements of the developing fetus. This event normally fell around four months into the pregnancy, and interestingly, at this point in history, not even the Catholic Church believed that a human life existed before quickening [5].

Early abortion legislature began to pop up in the 1820s and 1830s, but rather than to control womyn’s access to abortions, the laws were more poison control measures, set in place to control the spread of dangerous abortifacient drugs, which were dangerous to the womyn that imbibed them [6].

Despite these regulations, however, abortion was a booming practice during the first half of the nineteenth century. Estimates show that “between 1800 and 1830, one abortion occurred for every twenty-five to thirty births”, but that by the 1850s, “the proportion had increased to as many as one abortion per every five to six live births” [7].

It was only in the mid-1800s that the procedure fell out of legal favor, due, in part, to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) desire to consolidate medical power in the United States [8]. By 1900, abortion’s fall from grace was complete, as most every state viewed abortion to be a crime.

This increase in abortion-related legislation, however, was met by a lack of contraceptive options, leaving womyn with few ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freeman report in their book Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, “women [attempted to] induce miscarriage themselves or seek abortions. In the early nineteenth century, and in rural areas for many later generations, herbal and home remedies for terminating unwanted pregnancies continued to be passed on through oral tradition… surgical procedures, such as the use of a probe by a doctor or by a pregnant woman herself, were available but dangerous” [9].

By the 1960s, many abortion-seeking womyn were left to utilize underground abortion services, such as Chicago’s Jane Collective, which from 1967 to 1972, had helped facilitate up to 15,000 illegal abortions [10]. Still, many of these services, not to mention self-performed “coat-hanger abortions”, were not safe. In the 1950s and 60s, “between 200,000 and 1.2 million women underwent illegal abortions each year in the US.” In 1965, “illegal abortion accounted for an estimated 17 percent of all officially reported pregnancy-related deaths”. Remember: that that number is for “officially reported pregnancy-related deaths” [11]. What about deaths that were put under another cause to preserve the reputation or legal status of a woman?

As recently as 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the staggering number of abortion-related Supreme Court cases demonstrate the American public’s resistance to womyn’s right to abortion and have begun to chip away at the foundations of the Roe v. Wade ruling. In 2017, the Guttmacher Institute released a report that determined 15 obstructions to abortion, which were grouped into five barrier groups [12].

Travel-related logistical issues:

Due to the decreasing number of abortion facilities across the United States, womyn frequently must travel farther distances to get to clinics or facilities that can provide the services they need. S.C.M. Roberts et al.’s 2014 article “Out-of-Pocket Costs and Insurance Coverage for Abortion in the United States” reports that “women also reported paying up to $2200 for out-of-pocket travel costs, with a median (mean) of $15 ($54). Women with first trimester abortions paid a median (mean) of $10 ($23) out-of-pocket travel costs, women 14 to less than 20 weeks paid $20 ($47; p < 0.01 compared with first trimester), and at or after 20 weeks $30 ($100; p < 0.001 compared with first trimester) [13].

System navigation issues:

Navigating the system, as well as the stigma associated with the United States’ abortion system, can be a major barrier for some womyn seeking abortion services. Kimport et al.’s 2012 article on abortion clinic structures and processes noted that although most womyn are satisfied with the abortion care they receive in clinics, factors such as the presence of protesters or the emotional constitution of the staff played a role in abortion access [14]. Kimport reports that “even with [the anticipation of protesters], these interactions with protesters increased women’s feelings of stigma, secrecy and shame”, and that the security measures in place to protect abortion-seeking womyn from protesters reportedly made some survey respondents uncomfortable [15].

Limited clinic options:

In the clinical research of abortion-providing facilities, there seem to be four types of locations: abortion clinics, non-specialized clinics, hospitals, and physicians’ offices. According to “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2014”:  Abortion clinics are defined as non-hospital facilities in which half or more of patient visits are for abortion services, regardless of annual abortion caseload. Non-specialized clinics are non-hospital sites in which fewer than half of patient visits are for abortion services. Physicians’ offices are defined as facilities that provide fewer than 400 abortions per year…Physicians’ offices that provide 400 or more abortions per year were categorized as non-specialized clinics” [16].

Between 2011 and 2014, the abortion rate declined by 3-6% per year, while the total number of abortion facilities declined 3% over the same three years; however, the closings were most likely to be of heavy caseload abortion clinics, which provide 1,000-4,999 per year (26% of abortions) [17].

Financial issues:

Clients at Title X-supported facilities, which are involved in “ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals” are frequently young and low-income, a statistic that draws attention to the dire financial situations of many of these womyn and couples. [18, 19] In addition, 42% of abortions in the United States occur among women living below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and 69% occur among women below 200% FPL [20].

A 2014 study determined that two-thirds of womyn seeking an abortion received some financial assistance assisting in the cost of their procedure, whether it was private insurance (7%), Medicaid (34%), and/or other organizations (29%) [21].

Still, twenty-nine percent of womyn seeking an abortion did not receive any financial assistance, which would be a tremendous financial blow, considering the median price of a first trimester abortion in 2014 was $490, with a range of $225 to $750 (mean of $497). However, the price increases to a mean of $860 for an abortion between 14 and 20 weeks; after 20 weeks the mean is $1874. These costs are for the procedure, only: womyn also must factor in transportation costs and the time and potential income lost from their daily lives, be it work, school or family care [22].

State or clinic restrictions:

Even though Roe v. Wade set a nation-wide ruling for abortion legislature, state-level abortion restrictions are making abortions more difficult to obtain. In 2013, Texas implemented targeted regulation of abortion providers, colloquially known as TRAP, laws that mandated that doctors who provide abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals, and that clinics meet strict standards set for ambulatory surgical centers. These TRAP laws led to the closing of more than half of Texas’ abortion clinics, and although the Supreme Court overturned these regulations in 2016 and the decision was used several times in the next months to block similar laws in Alabama, Florida and Indiana, as of August, 2016, at least 24 states had enacted TRAP laws [23].

There are also state-level abortion restrictions that mandate longer waiting periods and limit facility availability, this issue is further complicated by the fact that most providers have limits on when in a pregnancy they will perform an abortion; womyn very early on or in their second trimester frequently have a difficult time finding facilities to help them [24].

Clearly, there are many efforts in place to attempt to prevent womyn from receiving the Constitutionally-sound care they need, and, arguably, deserve. Throughout the history of the United States, the relationship between the public, the state, the womon and abortion has experienced its fair share of trials and triumphs. Looking to the future, however, it would be impossible to say anything certain about the future of abortion in this country, except for the fact that the question of accessibility to this life-changing, and potentially life-saving, procedure will continue to be one of the major players in this debate.


Further readings

Levine, Phillip B., Amy B. Trainor and David J. Zimmerman. “The effect of Medicaid abortion funding restrictions on abortions, pregnancies and births.” Journal of Health Economics 15 (1996): 555-578.

Pollitt, Katha. Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. Picador, 2014.

Roe v. Wade: Its History and Impact.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America, January 2014.



[1] In this paper, I will be spelling woman as “womon” and women as “womyn”; this is an intentional decision, based on my belief that abortion is a womyn’s health issue, and therefore should be a topic that womyn have power in. Utilizing these alternative spellings of the words cements that womyn are not dependent, nor should they be, on men or their opinions on what they can or cannot do with their bodies.

[2] “United States Abortion.” Guttmacher Institute. Last modified 2018. united-states/abortion.

[3] Jerman, Jenna, Lori Frohwirth, Megan L. Kavanaugh, and Nakeisha Blades. “Barriers to Abortion Care and Their Consequences For Patients Traveling for Services: Qualitative Findings from Two States.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 49, no.2 (2017): 95-102.

[4] Gold, Rachel Benson and Megan K. Donovan. “Lessons from before Abortion Was Legal.” Scientific American September 2017.

[5] Reagan, Leslie J. When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973. University of California Press, 1997, 8-9, 25.

[6] Ibid., 42-43.

[7] D’Emilio, John and Estelle B. Freedman. Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. University of Chicago Press, 1988.

[8] Reagan, 14-18.

[9] D’Emilio and Freedman, 65.

[10] King, C.R., “Calling Jane: the life and death of a women’s illegal abortion service.” Women’s Health 20 no. 3. (1993): 75-93.

[11] Gold and Donovan, Online.

[12] Jerman, Frohwirth, Kavanaugh and Blades, 98.

[13] Roberts, S.C.M., Heather Gould, Katrina Kimport, Tracy A. Weitz, Diana Greene Foster. “Out-of-Pocket Costs and Insurance Coverage for Abortion in the United States.” Women’s Health Issues 24, no. 2 (2014): e211-e218.

[14] Kimport, Katrina, Kate Cockrill and Tracy A. Weitz. “Analyzing the impacts of abortion clinic structures and processes: a qualitative analysis of women’s negative experiences with abortion clinics.” Contraception 85 (2012): 204-210.

[15] Ibid., 207.

[16] Jones, Rachel K. and Jenna Jerman. “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability In the United States, 2014.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 49, no. 1 (2017): 17-27.

[17] Ibid., 20.

[18] “About Title X Grants.” Office of Population Affairs, United States Department of Health and Human Services, March 6, 2018. about-title-x-grants/index.html.

[19] Frost J.J., L.F. Frohwirth and M.R. Zolna. “Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2013 Update.” New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2015.

[20] Jones, R. K., & Kavanaugh, M. L. ”Changes in abortion rates between 2000 and 2008 and lifetime incidence of abortion.” Obstetrics and Gynecology 117 no. 6 (2011) 1358–1366.

[21] Roberts, S.C.M., L. Fuentes, R. Kriz, V. Williams, U.D. Upadhyay. “Implications for women of Louisiana’s law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges.” Contraception 91 (2015): 368-372.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Jones and Jerman, 19.

[24] Jones, Rachel K. and Kathryn Kooistra. “Abortion Incidence and Access to Services in the United States, 2008.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 43, no. 1 (2011): 41-50.


The Color of Forced and Coerced Sterilizations

Taylor Burton [2018] is a sociology major, writing mentor, and student research assistant at Grinnell College. Through her studies, Burton primarily focuses on racial and class oppression within the context of neoliberalism and capitalism. Outside of her academics, she participates in social justice activism through various student organizations at Grinnell College. An often forgotten history… Read more The Color of Forced and Coerced Sterilizations

Choice? Alternative Birthing Options for Black Women in the Southern U.S. From the 1970s-now

Haley O’Neill (’18) is a Biology and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies major from SE MN. After Grinnell, she is working with maternal healthcare and reproductive rights advocacy. She hopes to pursue midwifery or women’s healthcare policy. The U.S. maternal mortality rate, in 2018,  is comparable to the rate in the 1970s. Approximately 700-900 women die… Read more Choice? Alternative Birthing Options for Black Women in the Southern U.S. From the 1970s-now

“One of Our Greatest Investments”: Breastfeeding in the Early 20th Century United States

Sam Curry is a fourth year Anthropology major from South Kingstown, Rhode Island. His main academic interests involve humans’ relationships with the nature and environmental health, and he hopes to work in environmental policy after graduation. His other main  interest is racquetball. In 1912, pediatrician Henry L. Coit, mourning his son’s death from typhoid fever,… Read more “One of Our Greatest Investments”: Breastfeeding in the Early 20th Century United States

Let’s Talk About Intersex, Babies

Malena Maxwell is a biology and physics double major.  She is interested in pursuing a career in the field of medical devices and took this course to educate herself on the evolution of medicine and medical practices throughout history.


“It’s a boy!” A proclamation such as this is usually the first phrase to come out of a physician’s mouth when they deliver a baby into the world. According to theorist Judith Butler, this is not only a statement, but also a “performative utterance” that assigns a sex and gender to that baby [1]. Yet in about one in every two thousand births an infant’s sex is unable to be determined at first glance [2].

Medical Management of Infants with Ambiguous Genitalia
Medical Management of Infants with Ambiguous Genitalia

Throughout history, the medical profession has been observing and intervening in the lives of those who do not strictly fall into the category of male or female. By analyzing how medical authorities have othered, altered, and fixed the bodies of “hermaphrodites” and the intersexed, we can see that they have constructed a rigid, two-sex system that reinforces heterosexual and male hegemonic social norms.

Prior to the 1850’s, medical professionals defined a hermaphrodite as someone who had both male and female sex organs. According to historian Elizabeth Reis, this situation was rare, so the definition of the hermaphrodite expanded to include all cases in which there was doubt about one’s sex in the mid-nineteenth century [3]. This broader definition was refined to the categories of true hermaphrodites, male pseudohermaphrodites, and female pseudohermaphrodites, after Theodor Albrecht Klebs proposed that the gonads were the primary indicators of sex in 1876 [4]. Only about five percent of those with ambiguous sex were classified as true hermaphrodites, while the others were viewed as pseudohermaphrodites [5]. This uneven statistic resulted in the rejection of the hermaphrodite as an additional category of sex. In the early 1900’s, the term “intersex” began replacing “hermaphrodite” in the medical field. It signifies that one is in between sexes instead of being both at the same time. However, this term is still not recognized as a category of sex today [6].

Male and Female: The Binary American Society is Built Around
Male and Female: The Binary American Society is Built Around.

The hermaphrodite and the intersexual were and currently are denied as categories of sex because they threaten the two-sex, heteronormative structure of American society. Most public structures and institutions are built around the two-sex system of male and female and the heterosexual nuclear family. Bathrooms and locker rooms are labeled “men” and “women,” and until recently, the institution of marriage was reserved only for those of the opposite sex. Previously, an American’s legal sex influenced their participation in marriage, property ownership, and politics [7]. If someone was neither legally a male nor female, there were not explicit answers to the questions of whether or not they could vote or own property, and whom they could marry. By challenging these gender-based rights, intersexuals threatened the long-standing structure of America’s two-sex society.

Intersexuals also threatened the heteronormative structure of society. They did so by “accidently” partaking in homosexuality [8]. For example, perhaps someone with ambiguous genitalia lived their life as a woman and married a man. If she later sought medical attention and during her examination a physician claimed she had male genital organs, the physician could declare that she was, in fact, male. In this case, the newly declared male would have now been sexually intimate with another male, leading to accidental homosexuality. Homosexuality has been viewed negatively in our society because it challenges the structure of the nuclear family and previously assigned gender norms. Hermaphrodites represented deviations from the two-sex, heterosexual structure of society. Their discrepant sex led society to view them as a cultural and social issue that needed to be solved [9].

Physicians, surgeons, and other medical authorities developed a solution to this “problem.” Since most individuals with ambiguous genitals were not considered true hermaphrodites, physicians believed that they were “really” a man or woman [10]. Physicians took it upon themselves to uncover or discover someone’s true sex that they claimed was there all along. Before the Golden Age of Medicine and the emergence of surgery, physicians did this by observing, diagnosing, and classifying those who with ambiguous genitalia. Most of these patients were adults when their sexual anomalies were discovered, which left little room for medical intervention.  This all changed when hospitals became the primary site of birth in the early 20th century.  As physicians became more involved in the birthing process, they also became more involved in the medical management of intersex infants [11].

Medical authorities were more able to diagnose, treat, and “fix” intersexuals as they practiced mastery over sexual determination in infants. From 1876 to 1915, what was known as the Age of Gonads, gonadal tissue largely determined the true sex of intersex individuals [12]. After this time frame, physicians placed more emphasis on secondary characteristics such as external genitals, chromosomes, internal organs, and hormone production [13]. Out of these attributes, external genital appearance became the primary indicator physicians used to uncover an infant’s “true sex” [14].

When analyzing an infant with unclear genital structure, physicians usually looked for similarities between normal anatomy and the abnormal anatomy of the child [15]. An enlarged clitoris or a micropenis usually dominates what is characterized as the “abnormal” anatomy that needs to be surgically corrected. Each case of enlarged clitoris or micropenises are handled differently depending on the chromosomal sex of an infant and their ability to produce hormones [16].  Although these characteristics are factors in sexual assignment, most emphasis is placed on the sized of the enlarged clitoris or micropenis. If a boy’s phallus is not large enough, he is considered a girl, not a boy. This method of medical management of intersex infants portrays various implications of what it means to be a male or a female.

Ruler Used to Determine the Sex of Intersex Child
Phall-O-meter’, Intersex Society of North
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
Intersex Society of North America PO Box 3070 MI 48106-3070

Medically, a male had to have XY chromosomes and an appropriately sized penis (large enough for female penetration). Only ten percent of intersex infants met this medical standard, while the other ninety percent were, as you could say, not good enough to be considered males [17]. The majority of intersex infants fell into the category of female and their bodies were constructed to have a “functional” vagina (capable of penal penetration) [18]. These medical standards for males and females were rooted in male, heterosexual hegemony. Only those with large enough penises could be considered men because otherwise they would not be able to have sex with a woman. This implied that women were simply vessels of sex for men’s use and pleasure. While physicians surgically constructed bodies that reflected male and heterosexual hegemony, John Money reinforced these ideals along with standard gender norms through his gender development theory.

John Money was the first man to propose that gender was not solely linked to someone’s anatomy. Beginning in 1995, Money and his colleagues theorized that “gender and children are malleable” and that through psychology and medicine, a child’s gender could be molded to match their surgically constructed genitalia [19]. According to this theory, newborns to children of eighteen months of age did not have an established gender identity, unlike adults [20]. This logic was why physicians primarily began targeting infants for genital construction surgeries in the mid-1950s and 1960s [21]. If surgery was conducted early on in a child’s life and parents practiced the proper rearing techniques, their child would establish a gender identity that was aligned with their genitals. Responsibility for the child’s future fell into the hands of both physicians and surgeons to uncover the true sex and surgically alter the genitals to match, along with the parents to rear their child so they would establish the corresponding gender identity.

Money describes the proper rearing techniques in his book, Man & Woman, Boy & Girl. When raising a boy, parents encouraged them to be dirty, loud, energetic, and initiative. Parents also told their boys that they were going to be fathers and husbands in the future, so education and work were necessary in order to financially support a family.  The rearing techniques of a girl largely deviated from those of a boy. When raising a girl, parents were instructed to grow their hair out and put them in dresses. Girls were to be neat, polite, quiet, and passive. The most important aspect of raising a girl was emphasizing that she would be a mother and wife someday, so domestic skills, such as cooking and cleaning, were essential [22]. These key aspects to raising boys and girls largely reflect and reinforce gender norms in which boys are the masculine breadwinners while girls are passive and polite housekeepers.

The medical management of intersex infants and John Money’s gender development theory has constructed sex, gender, and sexuality. American society often uses these terms interchangeably, however they each have different meanings with respect to human existence. Sex is the anatomical and physiological make up of a person. Gender refers to an individual’s self-identification and outward presentation, usually reflected through displays of femininity and masculinity. Sexuality relates to an individual’s sexual desire or acts. It is important to differentiate these three terms in order to understand the influence American medicine has had on them.

Medical intervention in the lives of intersexuals has constructed sex into a rigid two-sex system. By denying intersexuals a category of sex and instead labeling them as between male and female, medical authorities have decided that there are two natural and normal sexes, male and female. The medical management of intersex infants has also influenced gender. Money’s rearing techniques reinforced the notion that males are masculine men, females are feminine women, and gender should match an individual’s designated sex. Money’s theory, along with the surgical creation of males and female, constructed sexuality as well. Women were medically constructed for penal penetration and reared to become wives, whereas men were constructed to penetrate females and raised to be successful husbands.

When we restrict integral qualities of human existence to binary systems, we define who is human and who is not. When intersexuals are labeled in our society, we fail to give them more than just a name. Their exclusion will not go away until society, as a whole, is able to reframe its perspective on what it means to be human. Today, humans are defined as either male or female with respective genders and sexualities. Recognizing intersexuality as a true identity will require the reconstruction of social thought. Men are more than just a sizable penis and women are more than just a penetrable hole. Freeing identity from these two hard-ingrained markers would both open up space for the intersexed and liberalize men and women from their confined spheres.



[1] Sara Salih, “On Judith Butler and Performativity,” in Sexualities and Communication in Everyday Life: A Reader, ed. Karen E. Lovaas & Mercilee M. Jenkins (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2007), 61-62.

[2] Cheryl Chase, “Hermaphrodites With Attitude: Mapping the Emergence of Intersex Political Activism,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 4 no. 2 (1998): 189.

[3] Elizabeth Reis, Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 43.

[4] Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 38.

[5] Suzanne J Kessler, “The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants,” Signs 16 no. 1 (1990): 5.

[6] Alice Domurat Dreger, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 31.

[7] Katrina Alicia Karkazis, Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 34; Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, 39.

[8] Dreger, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, 76.

[9] Suzanne J Kessler, Lessons from the Intersexed (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998), 32.

[10] Reis, Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex, 29.

[11] Karkazis, Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience, 38-39.

[12] Geertje Mak, “‘So we must go behind even what the microscope can reveal’: The Hermaphrodite’s ‘Self’ in Medical Discourse at the Start of the Twentieth Century,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 11 no. 1 (2005): 68-69.

[13] Kessler, “The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants,” 11.

[14] Morgan Holmes, Intersex: A Perilous Difference (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 2008), 50.

[15] Reis, Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex, 43-44.

[16] Kessler, “The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants,” 11.

[17] Chase, “Hermaphrodites With Attitude: Mapping the Emergence of Intersex Political Activism,” 192.

[18] Dreger, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, 184.

[19] Kessler, “The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants,” 6-8.

[20] Karkazis, Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience, 55.

[21] Reis, Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex, 141.

[22] John Money, Man & Woman, Boy & Girl: The Differentiation and Dimorphism of Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 118-125.



Further Readings

Colapinto, John. As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As a Girl. First edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex. New York: Picador, 2002.

Preves, Sharon E. Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003.


Autonomous and Insane: The Gendered, Classed, and Raced Pathologization of Women’s Minds

Johanna Foster is a senior sociology major at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Her post-graduation plans involve working in education and the consumption of copious amounts of coffee. Modern pop culture loves to pathologize women’s behavior. Does this seem like a questionable assertion? A quick dive into the murky waters of the popular website,,… Read more Autonomous and Insane: The Gendered, Classed, and Raced Pathologization of Women’s Minds

There Will (not) Be Blood

by Irene Bruce Menstruation is something that most women experience but often don’t discuss unless in the presence of other women. The hidden nature of menstruation comes about as a result of widespread social forces that encourage women to view their bodies, and periods in particular, as objects of shame. Using sources such as books… Read more There Will (not) Be Blood