Contraception and Catholicism in the twentieth century: transnational perspectives on medical, activist and intimate practices

Agata Ignaciuk, Laura Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


This special issue uses Catholicism as a thread to bring together five contributions to the transnational history of contraception. The articles, which cover examples from Western and East-Central Europe, East Africa and Latin America, all explore the complex interplay between users and providers of birth control in contexts marked by prevalence of the Catholic religion and/or strong political position of the Catholic Church. In the countries examined here, Brazil, Belgium, Poland, Ireland and Rwanda, Catholicism was the majority religion during the different moments of the long twentieth century the authors of this special issue focus on. Using transnationalism as a perspective to examine the social history of the entanglements between Catholicism and contraception, this special issue seeks to underscore the ways in which individuals and organisations used, adapted and contested local and transnational ideas and debate around family planning. It also examines the role of experts and activist groups in the promotion of family planning, while paying attention to national nuances in Catholic understandings of birth control. The contributions shed light on the motivations behind involvement in birth control activism and expertise, its modus operandi, networking strategies and interactions with men and women demanding contraceptive information and technology. Moreover, through the use of oral history, as well as other print sources such as women’s magazines, this collection of articles seeks to illustrate ‘ordinary’ men and women’s practices in the realm of reproductive health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalMedical History
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • birth control
  • Catholicism
  • contraception
  • family planning
  • activism

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