Motherhood by Choice
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Perdita Constance Huston (1936—2001) was an American journalist and women's rights activist. She is commemorated by the international Perdita Huston Human Rights Award.

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Motherhood by Choice

Pioneers in Women's Health and Family Planning
Perdita Huston

Foreword by Fred Sai

Drawing on personal interviews, Perdita Huston delineates the motivations, strategies, and heartaches of twelve pioneers from the developing world, before and after colonial rule, and from industrialized countries. These women and men braved scorn and abuse to raise the issues of family planning, contraception, and sex education, and to fight for improved health care for women.

“At a time when women’s reproductive freedom is under assault throughout the world, it is both inspiring and sobering to learn that the struggle to defend it has a history so long and diverse. Perdita Huston’s vivid and moving oral histories of birth control ‘pioneers’ not only show courageous women and men confronting religious, patriarchal, and colonial prejudice. They also confirm that campaigns for reproductive rights emerge in the context of broader movements for gender equality, social justice, decent health care, and human rights; their origins are both local and global.”

—Rosalind Petchesky, professor of political science and women’s studies, Hunter College of The City University of New York, and author of Abortion and Women’s Choice: The State, Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom.

"These inspiring stories about twelve international pioneers of family planning are powerful and instructive. The variety of experience and achievement springs from the common compelling need for family planning information and services throughout the world."

—Dr. George F. Brown, Vice President, The Population Council

"For those who understand that the struggle for reproductive health and women's rights is a never-ending battle, the outrageous acts and passionate commitment of the trailblazers in Motherhood by Choice are not only an inspiration but a blueprint for action."

—Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice

"Perdita Huston's book is very timely. . . . It is important to be reminded of the women and men who pioneered family planning. Their stories should compel us to redouble our efforts to provide women of all countries and classes with comprehensive health care."

—Carmen Barroso, Director, Population Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

"The basic human right to choose whether and when to have children is universally recognized. But the lives and work of the pioneers remind us that it was not always so and that the struggle is not over yet. Half the world's women are still without means to plan their families. Our right to reproductive freedom is the legacy of the pioneers—our legacy should be to make sure that universal right becomes a universal reality."

—Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund

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