Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Dilara Üsküp

Reader 2

Shanna Rose

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Alexandra N. Hammond


An extensive body of research suggests that increasing access to contraception can improve the health of women and children and increase their socioeconomic mobility through increased wages and labor force participation. In the United States, however, contraception and childbearing has historically been used as a form of racist and eugenic population control. This thesis outlines the history of contraception in an intersectional context, inspired largely by the work of Martha Bailey and Dorothy Roberts, from forced childbearing during chattel slavery, to the forced and or coercive sterilization of large populations of Black and Brown women in the modern era. Given the historical racism of contraception, combined with the possibilities for increased socioeconomic mobility and self-determination that accompany increased access to contraception, leads this thesis to ask: who lacks access to contraception in the U.S. today? An original analysis of data from the Guttmacher Center determines that Hispanic women are the most likely to lack access to birth control, followed by younger women and impoverished women. These findings, in conversation with the current implications of the racist past of contraception, imply the need for anti-racist contraception programs that prioritize informed consent and patient autonomy. Such programs could improve women’s and child health, decrease government spending, and contribute to increasing economic and racial equality.