Both feminist and practical politics : The incorporation of infertility treatment into family planning in Britain, 1930s-1950s
In the mid-twentieth century, the Family Planning Association emerged in Britain as one of the largest providers of infertility diagnosis for men and women. In the early years of the century, women were coming to birth control centers seeking cures for their childlessness, well before those centers began officially offering infertility investigation and treatment. What changed by mid-century was the emergence of a determination not only to welcome infertility patients at birth control clinics but to establish the clinics as centers for infertility research and care. Beginning in the late 1930s, eugenicists concerned with the impact of population decline on the social acceptability of birth control formed an alliance with feminist medical professionals determined both to empower women in involuntarily childless marriages to understand and address the causes of their infertility and to shift the paradigm of infertility treatment away from its over-focus on the female body. This political marriage of convenience gave birth to a large-scale movement to diagnose both male and female infertility through the auspices of the Family Planning Association. The organization's infertility program, in turn, spurred the development of infertility as a field of medical research in postwar Britain and encouraged the expansion of National Health Service provision of infertility care.