Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
Power and Decision

Power and Decision

The Social Control of Reproduction

Edited by Gita Sen and Rachel C. Snow

ISBN 9780674695337

Publication date: 01/01/1994

This volume brings together feminist social and biomedical scholars from the Southern and Northern hemispheres to examine the aggregate forces that affect reproductive choice. Drawing on numerous case studies, this book examines the range of social, economic, and scientific policies which collectively impact on reproductive well being. Power and Decision offers an analysis of how disparate policies, seemingly unrelated to reproduction, are implicitly “pro-natalist” or “anti-natalist.” Moreover, these policies are imbued with gender, race, and class biases. The authors examine the reproductive impact of welfare and parental leave legislation, health services, adoption policies, biomedical research, the global transfer and regulation of reproductive technologies, and international family planning programs.

Offering a rare global feminist critique of social policy, this volume makes explicit the direction of current legislative, economic, and scientific trends, providing a basis for discussion, debate, and possible redress.


  • Many of these writers discuss phenomena that, if taken seriously by demographers, would have important influence in their approach to research and policy… They raise the issue of whether women really have choice in reproductive decisions or in family planning method given existing social, especially gender, inequalities and the hegemony of the population control movement.

    —Nancy E. Riley, Signs

Book Details

  • 330 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies