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Almighty Physicians and Autonomous Adults: the 1970s women's health movement.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Duncan Needham.

My research examines the broader impact of the work of 1960s American journalist, Barbara Seaman. Seaman is most remembered for her 1969 book The Doctors’ Case Against the Pill, which alerted the public to the possible dangers of oral contraceptives, and the subsequent FDA requirement of a patient package insert on the pill. While histories of the birth control pill only briefly mention Seaman, her emphasis on patient autonomy and the need for informed consent as part of second-wave feminism and the women’s health movement of the 1970s triggered a larger transformation in doctor-patient relationships. Histories from this time often focus on collective impacts by coalitions rather than individuals, but I argue that Seaman is one woman worth remembering, an ordinary journalist who helped trigger extraordinary change in medicine. My project is the first to extensively examine Seaman’s work, particularly as an example of the larger impact of second-wave feminism on informed consent in America.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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