Emily  Mantaro

Sterilization and Abortion in the Late Weimar Republic: Policy, Personal Choice, and Eugenics

This thesis aims to examine the results of governmental attempts to control abortion and sterilization in the lives of ordinary women and physicians in the late Weimar Republic. I hope to illuminate ways in which the intersection of policy and personal choice affected women of different demographics in Germany, including class, race, age, and those classified as “asocial,” based on assigned classifications and notions of eugenic desirability in a democracy that shortly after came under Nazi control. Instead of simply highlighting higher level policy and heavily male political parties’ impacts in a top-down method of controlling women’s bodies, I plan to spotlight the ways in which women in the Weimar Republic responded to these laws, both being affected by and affecting policies and policy implementation on abortion and sterilization, including in the court system. Ultimately, I hope to explore this research question: How did individuals, particularly women and physicians, follow and to what extent did they subvert laws regarding the termination of pregnancies and sterilization in the late years of the Weimar Republic, and how was this subversion legally punished or ignored?