The feminist appropriation of pregnancy testing in 1970s Britain

Olszynko-Gryn, Jesse (2019) The feminist appropriation of pregnancy testing in 1970s Britain. Women's History Review, 28 (6). pp. 869-894. ISSN 0961-2025

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    Abstract

    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.