Barbara Bates Seminar Series 4.10.24

Prescribing Reproductive Rights: Pills and the Politics of Family Planning, 1960 - 2024

Speaker: Kelly S. O'Donnell
Date + Time: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 4:00pm - 5:30pm, EDT
Location: Hybrid; Gershwind & Bennett Family Collaborative Classroom, Holman Biotech Commons, 3610 Hamilton Walk, University of Pennsylvania + Zoom webinar

Abstract: The birth control pill, the morning after pill, mifepristone—pharmaceuticals have been at the center of debates over reproductive rights since the 1960s. This talk will explore episodes in the history of fertility control drugs relating to questions of side effects, prescription status, patient education, and access.

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Kelly S. O’Donnell, PhD, is a historian of medicine and gender in the modern United States, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of US History at Bryn Mawr College. Her research focuses on the complex relationship between women and healthcare. She has written extensively on the history of birth control and abortion, health activism, and the gender politics of medical research and the historical archive.

Her book in progress, The Pill Hearings: Science, Politics, and Birth Control, is a culmination of her research on the history of birth control, health activism, pharmaceutical regulation, and patient rights. She is also also currently researching a second book project, which explores the role of doctors’ wives in shaping American medicine over the past two centuries.

As a first-generation, low-income student, she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and then earned her Ph.D. in the Program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University.


For accessibility and accommodation requests please contact Elisa Stroh at [email protected] or (215) 898-4502.

This seminar is co-sponsored by Penn Nursing’s Center for Global Women’s Health, the Department of History, and the program in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.