The Politics of the Pill

The Politics of the Pill : Gender, Framing, and Policymaking in the Battle over Birth Control

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The announcement of a Health and Human Services (HHS) rule requiring insurance providers to cover the costs of contraception as part of the Affordable Care Act sparked widespread political controversy. How did something that millions of American women use regularly become such a fraught political issue? In The Politics of the Pill, Rachel VanSickle-Ward and Kevin Wallsten explore how gender has shaped contemporary debates over contraception policy in the
U.S. Within historical context, they examine the impact that women and perceptions of gender roles had on media coverage, public opinion, policy formation, and legal interpretations from the deliberation of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 to the more recent Supreme Court rulings in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores,
Inc. and Zubic v. Burwell. Their central argument is that representation matters: who had a voice significantly impacted policy attitudes, deliberation and outcomes. While women's participation in the debate over birth control was limited by a lack of gender parity across institutions, women nevertheless shaped policy making on birth control in myriad and interconnected ways. Combining detailed analyses of media coverage and legislative records with data from public opinion surveys, survey
experiments, elite interviews, and congressional testimony, The Politics of the Pill tells a broader story of how gender matters in American politics.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 280 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 17mm | 422g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190675357
  • 9780190675356

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Part I - Policy
Chapter 2: The History of the Pill
Chapter 3: Contraception Coverage Policy in the States
Chapter 4: Contraception Coverage Policy in Congress
Chapter 5: Contraception Coverage in the Courts
Part II - Media and Public Opinion
Chapter 6: Media Sourcing
Chapter 7: Media Frames
Chapter 8: Public Opinion
Chapter 9: Experiment - Frames and Public Opinion
Chapter 10: Conclusion
Appendix A: Coding Terms for Frames in Legislative and Judicial Deliberation
Appendix B: Amicus Briefs
Appendix C - Sample Treatment Article for Authorship and Sourcing Experiment
Appendix D - Sample Treatment Articles for Framing Experiment
Appendix E - Mechanical Turk Sample Characteristics
Works Cited
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Review quote

"It is quite rare to find a book that takes a big picture look at the evolution of public policy, much less a policy that deeply affects women. In The Politics of the Pill, VanSickle-Ward and Wallsten, do just that, providing a rich, detailed, and comprehensive look at birth control policy, from how it is covered in the media, to the debates that played out in congress and the courts, to factors that influence state level policy adoption, to public opinion on the issue. Using multiple methods, they deftly weave together, analyze, and discuss policy evolution across these multiple venues, to showcase how women's voices mattered at various stages of the policy process. This is a must read for anyone interested in women and politics, policy evolution, and representation." -Jennifer Merolla, University of California, Riverside

"The Politics of the Pill provides an exceptionally nuanced and thorough argument that what we are talking about, what the law is, and what we believe when it comes to reproductive rights is intimately linked to who is allowed to talk. As such, it is a timely and welcome addition to not only scholarly discussions, but to policy and public debates as well." -Joshua Wilson, University of Denver
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About Rachel Vansickle-Ward

Rachel VanSickle-Ward is Professor of Political Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Her research interests include public policy, public law, state politics, and gender and politics. She has published work on the politics of statutory language, gender and political ambition, and administrative law. Her first book, The Devil is in the Details: Understanding the Causes of Policy Specificity and Ambiguity (2014; winner, Herbert
A. Simon Book Award), explores the impact of political and institutional fragmentation on policy wording, focusing on the dynamics of social policy construction in the states. She is a frequent commentator on KPCC's Take Two (Southern California Public Radio). Her writing has appeared in Talking Points Memo, The Washington
Post (The Monkey Cage), and U.S. News and World Report.

Kevin Wallsten is Associate Professor of Political Science at California State University, Long Beach and former President of the American Political Science

Association's Section on Information Technology and Politics. He has published over 20 research articles in the areas of American elections, public opinion, political communication, social media and race and ethnic politics. Two of these articles have been acknowledged with awards by the American Political Science Association and, collectively, his papers have been cited in nearly 1,000 other published works. His research has been discussed in mainstream news outlets, including The New York
Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also appeared as a political analyst on television news programs such as ABC 7 News, Charter Local Edition and CSULB's Beach TV.
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