“The turkey baster as revolutionary”: Lesbian Self-Insemination and Processes of (Bio)medicalization in the United States

In a 1980 New York Times article, journalist Anne Taylor Fleming describes the act of artificial donor insemination as a simple process that “requires only a woman, a syringe and some sperm.”[2] In doing so, Fleming draws on the rhetoric of women’s health activism, which privileges a do-it-yourself style aimed at empowering women by teaching them about their own bodies. Either out of ideological preference or necessity, women in the 1970s and into the 1990s embraced self-help methods of insemination as an alternative to accessing reproductive technologies within male-dominated medical settings.

The broad term “reproductive technology” encompasses many different interventions, such as donor insemination, intrauterine insemination, and in vitro fertilization.[3] Due to the broad scope of these technologies, this paper will focus specifically on self-insemination using donor sperm. Self-insemination (as opposed to other reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization) is relatively accessible, and can take place both inside and outside medical settings.[4] This paper will argue that lesbian feminists of the 1970s-1990s turned to self insemination as a strategy to resist male-dominated medicalization processes. However, it proved impossible for women to work entirely ‘outside’ of processes of medicalization, due to physician backlash against the self-help movement as well as corporate cooptation of the women’s health movement. Further, the feminist self-insemination movement itself must be critically interrogated along class and race lines.

Self-Insemination and the Women’s Health Movement

As contraception became more widely available among heterosexual, middle-class white American women, particularly with the advent of the birth control pill in the early 1960s, heterosexual intercourse became conceptually separated from procreation. [5] This shift allowed for feminist interrogations of biological processes. If sex could exist without conception, then (as journalist Anne Taylor Fleming asks), “why not conception without sex?”[6] However, an awareness of lesbians’ reproductive desires took longer to emerge. The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective’s Our Bodies, Ourselves’ 1973 editionfeatured a section written by and for lesbian women. Although this section included a discussion of parenting as a lesbian woman, however, it did not discuss alternative reproduction techniques such as donor insemination.[7]

The practice of self-insemination emerged in a context of feminist resistance to dominant medical frameworks. Male-centered medicine, feminists argued, emphasized the authority of doctors as the only legitimate possessors of medical knowledge. In a 1984 Jewish Advocate article on the women’s health movement, libertarian radio host David Brudnoy agrees, writing that American society has “sometimes seemed to approach idolatry in [its] attitude towards doctors.”[8] Brudnoy notes that, although the majority of American women are not likely to turn to self-insemination over more ‘conventional’ forms of reproduction, the fact that feminists are calling the absolute primacy of medical authority into question represents a “revolutionary” act.[9]

The origins of the self-insemination movement are unclear. The London, England-based Feminist Self Insemination Group, a feminist collective, began performing self-inseminations in the early 1970s.[10] However, public health scholar Sheryl Burt Ruzek claims that “self-help gynecology” began in 1971 in Los Angeles.[11] It is likely that small groups of women were practicing self-insemination in their own communities both in the United Kingdom and in the United States, without necessarily being aware of one another’s existence. However, as alternative feminist health networks grew, they began to communicate and even publish anthologies, such as the 1984 Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood?[12]

At the time when self-insemination emerged in the United States, existing sperm banks primarily targeted married heterosexual women, and ignored or dismissed the needs of lesbian women (single and partnered) who wished to conceive. Out of necessity as well as political conviction in the transformative power of collective processes, lesbian women mobilized. They formed support groups and instructional workshops, teaching one another how to perform inseminations outside of clinical settings. Prior to 1980, a northern California support group circulated pamphlets on “Woman-Controlled Conception” as well as “Artificial Insemination, an Alternative Conception for the Lesbian and Gay Community,” spreading the word about using common household items such as turkey basters and eyedroppers to inseminate oneself.[13] Similarly, in the early 1980s, Womancare feminist health center in San Diego (the third feminist health center to offer self-insemination workshops in the state of California) began scheduling monthly clinics to assist women in finding sperm and performing inseminations.[14] Workers at feminist health centers instructed themselves on conducting inseminations through reading medical journals, textbooks, and speaking to physicians; they also used “plain, down-to-earth common sense.”[15] At feminist self-insemination workshops in the 1970s and 1980s, women were given speculums and hand mirrors, and asked to examine their vaginas and find their cervix.[16] Participants were also given syringes without needles, and told to practice squirting water as close as possible to their cervix in order to approximate the act of self-insemination with fresh sperm.[17]

For women who wished to inseminate using these do-it-yourself methods, finding donors within one’s circle of friends or acquaintances could present a challenge. Lesbians commonly approached gay men as potential donors, ‘queering’ notions of the patriarchal family and traditional gender and sexual norms.[18] Once the donor was selected, he ejaculated fresh sperm into a container, which was then inserted near the cervix.[19] Women who inseminated at home and did not have access to medical implements such as a syringe used turkey basters, which women’s health activist Francie Hornstein states worked “just fine.”[20] Some women also chose to approach the few private sperm banks, such as the Southern California Cryobank. [21]

For feminist self-insemination advocates, placing conception under women’s control was intrinsically connected to promoting women’s emancipation.[22] One of the goals of the feminist health movement was to subvert the hierarchy between ‘professional’ and ‘patient’. Feminist critics of medicalization processes pointed out that the growth in medical technologies takes place within a social context determined, in large part, by the interests of white, middle class men. Thus, despite doctors’ claims of objectivity, the expansion of the medical sphere is not a politically neutral process.[23] Feminist health collectives worked against these processes of professionalization, hierarchical authority, and medicalization by hosting their meetings in non-professional settings, such as women’s health centers, on campuses, in churches, and in individuals’ homes, as well as by viewing all women as possessors of valid knowledge about their own bodies.[24]

 

Negotiating (Bio)medicalization

In addition to contesting patriarchy, the self-insemination movement was tied to a broader feminist critique around the biomedicalization of birth processes. Medicalization is the process by which medical knowledge becomes incorporated into individual life through the creation and labeling of ‘disease,’ which those with ‘professional medical knowledge’ then position themselves as having the expert authority to diagnose and treat.[25]  In the words of feminist author Diane Stein, “[f]etal heart monitors, enemas, the lithotomy position, labor inducing drugs and anesthetics, routine episiotomies and. . . caesarean sections” all represented the medicalization of the biological process of birth.[26] Women’s health activists challenged the idea that doctors were the experts, and that patients had to be quiet and subservient. They argued that these dynamics reproduced oppressive patriarchal norms.[27] Central to this feminist resistance was the creation of do-it-yourself women’s health networks, which were intended to provide an alternative to male-centered ‘professional’ medical service.[28]

However, it would be simplistic to draw a clear distinction between women’s self-insemination networks and medicalized assisted reproduction technologies. Women negotiated between these extremes, often incorporating aspects of each in their decisions about conception.Further, community-based, feminist health organizations such as Womancare chose to collaborate with medical and commercial institutions when necessary. They purchased sperm from the Southern California Cryobank, and their inseminations featured many medicalized aspects, including using sperm stored in liquid nitrogen and insertion using a needle-free syringe (a process which cost from $135-195 in 1983).[29] The Womancare example emphasizes the ways in which women negotiated anti-medicalized discourses while also accessing medical and commercial avenues.

Some women’s health activists even argued that the self-insemination movement was harmful to women because it did not sufficiently acknowledge the health and legal benefits of insemination within a clinical context.  Screening of donor sperm against sexually transmitted diseases was at the discretion of the doctor until 1988, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control stated that sperm should be frozen and placed in quarantine for a period of six months before being used for insemination.[30] The fact that insemination took place through physician intervention was also immensely useful in a legal sense. Women who chose to self-inseminate were vulnerable in regards to the law, because the sperm donor could legally claim to be the child’s biological father (even if a donor contract was signed). [31]  As such, the decision to inseminate outside the medical sphere entailed severe legal risks; insemination by a physician greatly lessened a sperm donor’s ability to later claim child custody rights.[32]

 

Professionalization, Physicians, and the Self-Insemination Movement

Feminist critiques of male-dominated medicine resulted in a backlash from medical professionals, who opposed the self-help movement taking health into their own hands. In response to San Diego Womancare’s self-insemination services, Dr. Katherine F. Carson, gynecologist and vice chairman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, states that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is “opposed to any unlicensed person conducting a medical procedure[.]”[33] This quote is striking in its emphasis on professionalization and licensing. Dr. Carson’s objection is not about the particular procedure per se, but rather about its performance by an “unlicensed” person.

Further, Dr. Carson states that “[t]here are the possibilities of harm, of complications” when performing artificial insemination without medical training.[34] However, this objection does not acknowledge the very real harm that many women faced within professional medical spaces. In 2009, Shira Spector, a queer woman undergoing clinical insemination, writes that she remembers “the doctor who was having a bad day or hated women or dykes or all of the above who did an insemination procedure on [her] so roughly and with such silent hostility that [she] bled afterward and hoped it wouldn’t work because [she] felt raped.”[35] This account evokes a familiar feminist critique of the way women have historically been treated within medical settings—experiences which triggered the formation of the women’s health movement. Dr. Carson’s concern over self-help advocates ‘causing harm’ to women reveals the limited definition of ‘harm’ within medical discourse. Doctors’ lack of empathy and gentleness is not, in this framework, construed as a form of harm, although it is clearly experienced by women such as Spector as such. In contrast to Dr. Carson’s assertion that only those with professional medical training can safely perform donor insemination, self-help advocates such as Hornstein assert that it is easily done, and that physicians emphasize its risks in order to maintain control over their ‘professional’ jurisdiction.[36]

 

 

The Depoliticization and Commercialization of Women’s Health

Although some physicians expressed mistrust of the feminist health movement, other medical professionals and academics were intrigued by its practices. Many feminist activists were suspicious of those outside of feminist communities who sought to study the women’s health movement, because these professionals were not personally invested in the radical goals of feminist health movements. In “Owning Ourselves- Reproductive Freedom,” feminist academic Maureen Reddy states that she is “frightened by the enormous amount of attention the mainly male medical establishment is giving to developing reproductive technology.”[37] Doctors and non-feminist academics studying women’s health activism may be doing so in order to gain personal profit or professional esteem, rather than to advance the movement’s political goals. A process of depoliticization took place as the do-it-yourself feminist health movement began to gain more attention among health care ‘professionals’ and academics, who Hornstein calls “onlookers and dispassionate observers.” [38] These observers analyzed feminist self-help without looking at its political critiques. As a result, it became increasingly difficult for feminist activists to maintain control over feminist health discourse, leaving it open to cooptation by corporate interests.

Tensions around the cooptation and depoliticization of the women’s health movement emerged as early as 1976, when a San Francisco “Self-Care Symposium” for “professional health educators, physicians, [and] sociologists” took place at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel. This symposium was co-sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley and the private Institute for Human Research; it was not organized by self-help activists themselves. Attendance cost $60, and very few actual self-help activists were in attendance.[39] Rather than emphasizing the feminist notion of do-it-yourself “self-help” healthcare, the conference language relied on the more politically neutral term “self-care.”[40] The conference’s emphasis on ‘professionalization’ was, Hornstein argues, “a rather ironic perversion” for a social movement focused on empowering all women.[41]

Feminist self-help rhetoric was appropriated by corporations as well as by the medical field. Writing in 1984, Hornstein states that donor insemination is a useful choice for lesbian women because it “can remain in our control”; however, fertility became increasingly subject to corporate interest and intervention.[42] In her 2007 work Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, Laura Mamo describes how feminist self help ideals were transformed into a commercialized “marketing slogan,” which appealed to women who came of age in the 1970s but was completely disconnected from feminist activism.[43] Mamo calls this process “Fertility Inc.” to make explicit the process by which do-it-yourself insemination has evolved into a “biomedical service sector” of private sperm banks.[44] Indeed, as Mamo notes, by 2007 there was only one not-for-profit sperm bank in the United States, the Sperm Bank of California, which exists through niche marketing to queer families.[45]

The growth of “Fertility Inc” has resulted in depoliticization and distancing from the original radical goals of the feminist health movement. Private sperm banks have no need to critique the medical establishment; they function comfortably within the world of professionalized medicine. Rather than give women the space to get to know their own bodies, companies produce new technologies that are given authority over women’s own knowledge. For example, rather than charting their vaginal mucus and paying attention to the fluctuation in bodily temperature and moods, women can now buy ovulation detection kits.[46] Further, the United States now has many more women’s health centers than it does feminist health centers. Women’s health centers have replaced the do-it-yourself feminist angle of the earlier self-help clinics with profit-driven clinics offering a range of new biomedical assisted reproduction technologies.[47] Although these health centers are not feminist in their organization or intent, they have appropriated certain elements of feminist health organizing, such as the use of support groups for lesbian mothers and families.[48] However, they pose no stated challenge to the medical status quo.

The women’s health movement of the 1970s and 1980s was seen as threatening and influential enough to inspire its cooptation by corporate interests. However, the ascendancy of “Fertility Inc.” cannot be dismissed outright; it does provide services that many women find useful, despite the commitment they might have to feminist do-it-yourself ideologies.Lesbian women desiring children exercise their agency through deciding when and how to engage with medical and corporate processes to aid insemination. As Mamo notes,

women [see] themselves as neither separatist agents of women’s empowerment nor the reluctant subjects of patriarchal medical control . . . women often [sustain] the intent, content, and meaning of women’s health discourse while also pragmatically negotiating biomedical assumptions and interventions.[49]

However, the decisions that women make do not take place in a vacuum. Women’s available options are structured by societal distribution of power.[50]

 

Race, Class, and Access to Reproductive Technologies

Racism and classism in the women’s movement kept the different experiences and needs of poor women and women of colour largely invisible. Because many aspects of the United States’ health system are privatized, lesbians are allowed to participate in “Fertility Inc.” as they have the money to pay for it.[51] Assisted reproduction technologies are primarily accessible to white, middle-class women. Ruzek states that, in 1973, 75,000 women were formal members of women’s rights organizations; the majority of these women were educated, middle- and upper-middle-class white women with professional careers or long histories of voluntary community engagement.[52] As such, many women who critiqued professionalization were the best placed to benefit from it because they were able to access medical services.

The privileging of a privileged white, Western woman as subject within feminist health discourse is clear in Ruzek’s 1978 work The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control. Ruzek argues that “routine care should be deinstitutionalized, deprofessionalized, and reintegrated into female culture, as it was historically in Western countries and as it remains in primitive societies [italics added].”[53] Ruzek creates a problematic dichotomy between “Western countries” and “primitive societies” that is indicative of a white, middle-class worldview.  Similarly, a 1978 statement by the London-based pioneers of self-insemination, the Feminist Self Insemination Group, reveals the implicit racism in the movement. The women identified themselves as “all white, middle class lesbian-feminists,” and acknowledged that their collective only provided sperm from white donors.[54]

Donor insemination techniques are often not tailored or responsive to the specific needs of women of colour. Ruzek argues that attempts to introduce self-help techniques into communities of colour in the San Francisco Bay Area were not successful because of women of colour having different “cultural values” around touching and exposing their bodies.[55] However, the lack of success could also be due to white feminists’ lack of anti-racist work, rather than to innate ‘cultural difference’.Further, African-American women’s low level of involvement in (white) feminist health organizing should be attributed to white feminists’ lack of awareness of black women’s priorities rather than any kind of innate depoliticization within black communities. African-American women have always been at the forefront of women’s health activism through organizations such as the National Black Women’s Health Project and Sister Care.[56] Many African-American women’s organizations diverge from white feminist organizations because they emphasize the need to focus on a wide range of factors impacting women’s health, such as poverty and discrimination, which white feminists have been reluctant to prioritize.[57]

Self-Insemination and Eugenics

Donor insemination raises crucial questions about the way that eugenic practices are enacted in the present. Lesbian insemination risks reproducing social inequalities because privileged women are granted the right to select their offspring’s characteristics according to what society construes as desirable. In a 1982 WomenWise article titled “Eugenics & You,” Jane Saunders states that there are no regulations against sperm banks “placing a higher price on . . . athletic sperm than artistic sperm . . . [o]r from taking donations from whites only.”[58] An example of eugenics at work is the Escondido, California sperm bank “The Repository for Germinal Choice,” in business from 1980 to 1999, whose openly eugenicist aim was to store only the sperm of Nobel Prize laureates.[59] Even without looking to such an extreme, all sperm banks perform eugenic practices by screening donor candidates for the ‘best specimens,’ requiring potential donors to provide detailed health histories, resumes, university GPAs, personal essays, and photographs.[60]

The way that prospective parents select sperm speaks to the legitimacy of Saunders’ critique.  As Mamo outlines, lesbians’ choices when selecting a sperm donor are conditioned by broader societal ideas of “perceived cultural liabilities” that are seen as undesirable in offspring, including “short stature, acne, academic weakness, lath of athleticism. . . even being black or Asian.”[61] Underlying racism around what bodies are ‘desirable’ or ‘worthwhile’ become couched in the rhetoric of personal preference. Further, ableism conditions which traits parents wish to pass on to their children. Teacher and disability activist Marsha Saxton argues that parents make choices about what children they want to conceive within a cultural context that values “rugged self-reliance, athletic prowess, and rigid standards of beauty.”[62] Differently-abled children, like children of colour, are seen as less desirable than white, able-bodied children within the context of ableist and white supremacist society.

Conclusion

As sociologist Barbara Katz Rothman argues in “The Meanings of Choice in Reproductive Technology,” the creation of new options for lesbian women necessarily entails the curtailing of older frameworks.[63] As more lesbians gain access to assisted donor reproduction within clinical settings, those who choose to perform self-inseminations are perceived as ‘not natural’. Medical intervention has become so commonplace that women who attempt to make choices outside of a medical framework are often met with resistance. Despite the ways in which feminist ideals have been appropriated by corporate interests, however, it is important not to create a dichotomy between ‘radical’ and ‘medicalized’ acts. All women must necessarily confront and negotiate these systems of medicalization because of the primacy of professionalized medicine within American society.  Many women combine elements of medical technologies with the ideas of feminist self-help. Others applaud the growth of new medical technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization, and practices such as sperm screening to test against HIV/AIDS.

However, the question of access to new reproductive innovations must be continually raised and interrogated. As fertility becomes a bigger business, we need to remain aware of the limited reach of these technologies. We must also remain aware of the ways in which this limited access reproduces social inequalities, as privileged parents obtain tools to determine the characteristics of their offspring without necessarily thinking critically about the hierarchies of bodily worth that contribute to their choices. As the feminist movement has argued, “the personal is political.” Lesbian families and feminist health movements are not visionary social alternatives if they reproduce the racist and ableist social norms that are present in heterosexist and patriarchal society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Achilles, Rona. “Protection from What? The Secret Life of Donor Insemination.” Politics and the Life Sciences, 12, no 2 (1993).

Arditti, Rita, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden, eds. “Introduction.” Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? Ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden.London: Pandora Press, 1984.

Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.

Brozek, Diane.  “Artificial Insemination Raising Medical, Ethical Questions.” A1. The Hartford Courant. Dec 8 1980.

Brudnoy, David. “David Brudnoy Says: Some Thoughts on Do-It-Yourself Pregnancy.” Jewish Advocate. April 19, 1984.

Cooke, Robert. “Some Single Women Inseminating Selves Artificially.” Boston Globe. April 5 1984.

Cooper, Davina. Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State. New York: New York University Press, 1995.

Fleming, Anne Taylor. “New Frontiers in Conception: Medical Breakthroughs and Moral Dilemmas.” SM4. New York Times. July 20, 1980.

Freed, David. “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd.” Los Angeles Times. SDA3.March 1 1983.

Grayson, Deborah R. “Necessity Was the Midwife of Our Politics: Black Women’s Health Activism in the ‘Post’-Civil Rights Era (1980-1996).” Still Lifting, Still Climbing: African American Women’s Contemporary Activism, ed. Kimberly Springer. New York: New York University Press, 1999.

Hornstein, Francie.  “Children by Donor Insemination: A New Choice for Lesbians.” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden.London: Pandora Press, 1984.

Hornstein, Francie. “Events of Note.” Women & Health 2:2 (1976).

Klein, Renate Duelli. “Doing it Ourselves: Self Insemination.” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden.London: Pandora Press, 1984.

Luce, Jacquelyne. Beyond Expectation: Lesbian/Bi/Queer Women and Assisted Conception. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

Mamo, Laura. Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience.Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007.

Nordqvist, Petra.  “Feminist heterosexual imaginaries of reproduction: Lesbian conception in feminist studies of reproductive technologies.” Feminist Theory 9, no. 3 (2008): 273-292.

Reddy, Maureen. “Owning Ourselves- Reproductive Freedom.” Hurricane Alice. April 30 1985.

Rothman, Barbara Katz, “The Meanings of Choice in Reproductive Technology.” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden.London: Pandora Press, 1984.

Ruzek, Sheryl Burt. The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1978.

Saunders, Jane. “Eugenics & You.” WomenWise. 5, no. 2 (1982).

Saxton, Marsha. “Born and unborn: the implications of reproductive technologies for people with disabilities.” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden.London: Pandora Press, 1984.

Spector, Shira. “Red Rock Baby Candy: Infertile Homosexual Speaks!” in Who’s Your Daddy? And other writings on queer parenting, ed. Rachel Epstein. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2009.

Stein, Diane. “Returning Birth to Mothers: Woman-Centered Pregnancy and Birth.” WomenWise 7, no. 3 (1984).

 


1. David Brudnoy, “David Brudnoy Says: Some Thoughts on Do-It-Yourself Pregnancy,” Jewish Advocate, April 19, 1984, 7.

2. Anne Taylor Fleming, “New Frontiers in Conception: Medical Breakthroughs and Moral Dilemmas,” New York Times, July 20, 1980, SM4.

3. Petra Nordqvist, “Feminist heterosexual imaginaries of reproduction: Lesbian conception in feminist studies of reproductive technologies,” Feminist Theory 9, no. 3 (2008): 275.

4. Petra Nordqvist, “Feminist heterosexual imaginaries of reproduction: Lesbian conception in feminist studies of reproductive technologies,” 275.

5. Anne Taylor Fleming, “New Frontiers in Conception: Medical Breakthroughs and Moral Dilemmas,” SM4.

6. Ibid.

7. Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973), 71.

8. David Brudnoy, “David Brudnoy Says: Some Thoughts on Do-It-Yourself Pregnancy,” 7.

9. Ibid.

10. Renate Duelli Klein, “Doing it Ourselves: Self Insemination,” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden (London: Pandora Press, 1984), 382-383.

11. Sheryl Burt Ruzek, The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1978), 53.

12. Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden (London: Pandora Press, 1984).

13. Anne Taylor Fleming, “New Frontiers in Conception: Medical Breakthroughs and Moral Dilemmas,” SM4.

14. David Freed, “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd,” Los Angeles Times, March 1 1983, SDA3.

15. Francie Hornstein, “Children by Donor Insemination: A New Choice for Lesbians,” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden (London: Pandora Press, 1984), 374-375).

16. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007), 23.

17. Ibid.

18. Davina Cooper, Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State (New York: New York University Press, 1995), 90-91.

19. Francie Hornstein, “Children by Donor Insemination: A New Choice for Lesbians,” 374-375.

20. Ibid.

21. David Freed, “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd,” SDA3.

22. Petra Nordqvist, “Feminist heterosexual imaginaries of reproduction: Lesbian conception in feminist studies of reproductive technologies,” 279-280.

23. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden, “Introduction,” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? Ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden (London: Pandora Press, 1984), 4.

24. Sheryl Burt Ruzek, The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control, 131.

25. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 11.

26. Diane Stein, “Returning Birth to Mothers: Woman-Centered Pregnancy and Birth,” WomenWise 7:3 (1984).

27. Sheryl Burt Ruzek, The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control, 9.

28. Diane Stein, “Returning Birth to Mothers: Woman-Centered Pregnancy and Birth.”

29. David Freed, “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd,” SDA3.

30. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 199.

31. Davina Cooper, Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State, 90-91.

32. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 23.

33. David Freed, “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd,” SDA3.

34. David Freed, “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd,” SDA3.

35. Shira Spector, “Red Rock Baby Candy: Infertile Homosexual Speaks!” in Who’s Your Daddy? And other writings on queer parenting, ed. Rachel Epstein (Toronto: Sumach Press, 2009), 75.

36. David Freed, “S.D. Gets Artificial Insemination Service: Doctors Oppose Unlicensed Practice at Feminist Center, State’s 3rd,” SDA3.

37. Maureen Reddy, “Owning Ourselves- Reproductive Freedom,” Hurricane Alice, April 30 1985.

38. Francie Hornstein, “Events of Note,” Women & Health 2:2 (1976): 45.

39. Ibid., 45, 46.

40. Francie Hornstein, “Events of Note,” 45.

41. Ibid., 46.

42. Francie Hornstein, “Children by Donor Insemination: A New Choice for Lesbians,” 373.

43. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 229.

44. Ibid., 24.

45. Ibid., 202.

46. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 142.

47. Ibid., 55.

48. Ibid., 81.

49. Ibid., 129.

50. Davina Cooper, Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State, 90-91.

51. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 13.

52. Sheryl Burt Ruzek, The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control,184.

53. Ibid., 14.

54. Renate Duelli Klein, “Doing it Ourselves: Self Insemination,” 382-383, 386.

55. Sheryl Burt Ruzek, The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control, 191.

56. Deborah R. Grayson, “Necessity Was the Midwife of Our Politics: Black Women’s Health Activism in the ‘Post’-Civil Rights Era (1980-1996),” in Still Lifting, Still Climbing: African American Women’s Contemporary Activism, ed. Kimberly Springer (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 134, 137.

57. Sheryl Burt Ruzek, The Women’s Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control, 191.

58. Jane Saunders, “Eugenics & You,” WomenWise. 5:2 (1982).

59. Ibid.

60. Laura Mamo, Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience, 199.

61. Ibid., 4.

62. Marsha Saxton, “Born and unborn: the implications of reproductive technologies for people with disabilities,” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden (London: Pandora Press, 1984) 303.

63. Barbara Katz Rothman, “The Meanings of Choice in Reproductive Technology,” in Test Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? ed. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden (London: Pandora Press, 1984), 24.

2 thoughts on ““The turkey baster as revolutionary”: Lesbian Self-Insemination and Processes of (Bio)medicalization in the United States

  1. Hi, I want to cite this article in a academic work, may I know the name of the author? or the author is this association? Or is there any cited form I can adopt?
    Thanks a lot for your help.

    • Hello! I am the author. My name is Vanessa Fernando. I’d love to read your finished piece if you feel comfortable sharing! :)

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