Broadcasting Birth Control: Mass Media and Family Planning (Rutgers University Press, 2013) explores the use of mass media, from the era of silent film to the internet, to promote family planning at home in the United States, and in the expanding international arena of population control. Mass media was critical to the birth control movement’s attempts to build support and later to publicize the idea of fertility control and the availability of contraceptive services. Though these public efforts in advertising and education were undertaken initially by leading advocates, including Margaret Sanger, increasingly a growing class of public communications experts took on the role, mimicking the efforts of commercial advertisers to promote health and contraception in short plays, cartoons, films, and soap operas. In this way, they made a private subject—fertility control—appropriate for public discussion. Today, mass media remains a primary battleground in the culture war over women’s reproductive health.


“Parry’s clear, compelling, meticulously researched, and accessible book is the first to specifically examine the extensive use of mass media to garner support for the legalization of birth control during the twentieth century.” —Heather Munro Prescott, author of The Morning After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States

“By showing how the popular media helped win over a skeptical public, Parry deepens our understanding of the history of birth control . . . a subtle and persuasive reinterpretation.” –Sonya Michel, Professor of History, University of Maryland

Broadcasting Birth Control is jam-packed with surprising historical tidbits on ways the media has been used by the family planning movement since its inception. Manon Parry has done a major service to the family planning field by capturing the history of its early engagement with the media and the evolution of that engagement with all the pitfalls and challenges along the way.” —Conscience: The News Journal of Catholic Opinion

“To examine the broadcasting of birth control information from the silent era to the Internet, Parry thoroughly researched extensive media archives. Highly recommended.”—Choice

“Parry reveals to us many important parts of the [birth control] story we have for too long overlooked.” —Social History of Medicine

“Manon Parry’s engrossing book, Broadcasting Birth Control, takes readers through the arguments early sexual and reproductive health advocates had when deciding what would be the best messaging to gain popular support for the use of contraception in America.”—International Planned Parenthood Federation

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