NL 2004/04

Madame Restell/A. M. Mauriceau (1847), IUD 'Dana', 'How to avoid heavy family growth' (1912)





Dear friends of the planned Museum for Contraception and Abortion,

No, we are not going to disclose ALL the secrets about the interesting exhibits which will be on display at our museum. However, until we will be able to send out the invitations for the big opening – expected to take place somewhere in summer – we shall keep you informed by newsletter about some of our latest acquisitions.


One of the highlights of the museum will certainly be a recently purchased book by A.M. Mauriceau, a gynaecologist from New York, entitled 'The Married Woman's Private Medical Companion embracing the treatment of menstruation, or monthly turns, during their stoppage, irregularity, or entire suppression. Pregnancy, and how it may be determined; with the treatment of its various diseases. discover to prevent pregnancy; the great and important necessity where malformation or inability exists to give birth. to prevent miscarriage or abortion. when proper and necessary to effect miscarriage. when attended with entire safety. causes and moder of cure of barrenness, or sterility.'

Published in 1847, it was an astonishingly early work on this subject. For receiving the publishing licence it was necessary to abide by the rules: 'Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by Joseph Trow, in the clerk's office of the District Court of the Southern District New York.'


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From the Honorary President of the Czech Family Planning Association, Jirí Srácek MD, we have received various prototypes of DANA-IUDs developed by him and named after his spouse: Dana (1962), Dana Super (1965), Dana Super Fix (1966) und Dana Copper (1968).

In his former function as director of the maternity hospital Brno, Mr. Srácek has cooperated with Ing. Stanislav ('Stanley') Holánek from the Research Institute for Medical Technic Chirana Brno.

Their first three models (DANA 1-3) proved unsatisfactory, their use still resulting in high pregnancy and expulsion rates. Many small steps of further development, perseverance and a long series of tests finally led to the discovery of the right material (ethylen-vinyl-acetate-copolymer with copper ions) and the ideal shape (“Christmas tree”) allowing the IUD to always slip back to the fundus uteri. Tail-threads were added for easier insertion, detection and extraction.

Dana-iuds were used in large numbers in Algeria, Bulgary, Germany (east and west), Hungary, Poland, Soviet Union, Sweden, Vietnam...

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Many of mankind’s attempts to control fertility make us wonder about the ignorance on this subject. A large number of eductional publications dating from the first half of the 20th century tried to reduce the ignorance, often facing censorship and a threat to their existence.

The 1912 booklet “How to avoid heavy family growth” very clearly states: “It is not correct to let people stay in darkness regarding sexual issues as undoubtedly many families would economically be better off if father and mother were more enlightened about sexual matters. This concerns mainly how to avoid having too many children.”

“My doctor warned me against another pregnancy because I would not survive it; but he did not tell us how to go about this”, a desparate women wrote to Maria Stopes, one of the pioneers of contraception.

“Sexual abstinence” seems to have been a common advice – especially from those who were (no longer) concerned themselves. However, the above mentioned booklet confesses that such advice is hardly a realistic one, although nowadays we may no longer be able to follow the reasoning: “The total refusal of any intercourse with the male spouse to avoid pregnancies is neither necessary nor advisable since the male spouse might be urged into dubious ways. In the case of an unfavourable bodily disposition of the male spouse it would even be wrong because even with the latter nature demands its rights and onanism would ruin his body even more ….”


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With a number of interesting new objects having already been donated, we are still happy to receive any objects for the planned Museum for Contraception and Abortion, such as films, posters, leaflets, books, ducuments, statistics, devices and instruments for contraception, for pregnancy-testing and for abortion – from past and present times, from locally and elsewhere.

You can also support us by sponsoring the purchase of objects which otherwise we would not be able to finance.


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