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

ISBN : 9780190675356

Rachel VanSickle-Ward; Kevin Wallsten
280 ページ
156 x 156 mm

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.


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


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.