The intrauterine device (IUD) has a complicated history in the United States. Early models existed as far back as the early twentieth century, but they only became popular in the United States in wake of the birth control pill’s success. This Independent Study traces the IUD’s journey since about 1960 and contextualizes it around the Dalkon Shield, an infamous IUD that killed more than twenty women and permanently injured thousands more. I use contemporary writings, such as medical reports, newspapers, and magazines to show how events unfolded in the public eye. These writings, as well as preexisting scholarship, reveal that society makes women take responsibility for contraception, though gynecological health is still viewed as less important than anything affecting men, which has allowed medical manufacturers to capitalize women’s bodies. The Dalkon Shield disaster was the natural result of an industry that ignores and dehumanizes women, particularly women of color, and the only way medicine and gynecology can move forward is if manufacturers and doctors stop treating women’s bodies as commodities and start listening to women’s voices.


Biro-Walters, Jordan




Medicine and Health Sciences | Social History | United States History | Women's History | Women's Studies


IUD, medical malpractice, women's history, birth control, contraception

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Eleanor Barker