The feminist appropriation of pregnancy testing in 1970s Britain

Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

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10 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-894
Number of pages26
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number6
Early online date11 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019


  • pregnancy testing
  • 1970s Britain
  • liberation movement


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