An oral history of contraception and abortion in Scotland c.1960–2000

Year of award: 2018


  • Kristin Hay

    University of Strathclyde

Project summary

This research will consider the ways in which society, culture and medicine have shaped access to and attitudes towards contraception and abortion in Scotland during the second half of the 20th century. In a 'post-pill' era, women's interaction with the medical sphere dramatically transformed as their reproductive lives became increasingly medicalised, while concurrent abortion legislation pulled women from the shadows of backstreet abortions and into the safer hands of medical practitioners. However, a woman's right to control her own fertility remained highly conservative and divisive throughout this period – particularly in Scotland, where social, cultural, regional and economic factors limited a woman's access to contraception and abortion.

I will use oral history to uncover how women navigated the often complicated world of reproductive healthcare in a new, medical age and explore how it influenced and affected their lives. It will examine the shifting nature of the patient-practitioner relationship during this time, and the experiences of women who sought to access reproductive healthcare.

My research will provide a regional account of this period of transformation in the long history of reproduction.