Humankind’s Eternal Dream: Influencing Reproduction
An average of 15 pregnancies in a woman’s lifetime are normal by nature, and of them, approximately ten births could be expected, depending on her health, living conditions and hygiene, access to clean drinking water and energy-rich nutrition, etc. Of those ten, about seven children usually survived. This represented a tremendous burden for the majority of parents, whether economically, socially or in other ways, and still does. Limiting the number of children was and continues to be an important issue for all generations and in most cultures. Insufficient medical knowledge and the influence of the state, church, etc. have posed obstacles to and led to prohibitions and punishments for the use of contraception and abortion – and still do in most countries.
In the 18th century, it was discovered that the rate of population growth outstripped that of food production. The focus of birth control gradually shifted from the national economy to the family, and then to the children and mothers who were affected. Instead of limiting the number of children through poverty and destitution after the birth had taken place, the idea was to prevent pregnancies. The women’s movement eventually made a significant contribution to ensuring that women were able to have careers and realise their individual potential through improved contraception and fewer children.
With the intention of making information available concerning the relationship between sexuality and reproduction and illustrating the sometimes desperate attempts made over the centuries to destroy this natural bond, the Museum of Contraception and Abortion was established in Vienna. Without making judgments or adopting a specific position, materials are collected, documented and presented for viewing. The collection contains approximately 700 items and 300 books, most of which can be accessed online.