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Word Count: 1,246
Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance by John Riddle is a book that tries to make sense of the historical records related to birth control The historical medical records that Riddle looked at for his book were from the classical and medieval periods Riddle says how surprised and struck he was by the number of oral contraceptives and abortifacients that were mentioned in the records For the most part classical and medieval birth control methods have been regarded as magic and superstition Such methods have been universally agreed upon to be ineffective because they simply could not have worked Through his study of the records Riddle has learned that our distant ancestors may have known more about reproduction than we have credited them with Dismissing the practices and methods as magic and superstition is too simple In his study when something is denoted in the records to be magic Riddle will give mention to but not analyze By magic Riddle means something that is nonscientific such as objects worn in superstition to prevent pregnancy or chants and utterances made for the same reason In his study Riddle uses modern science to determine the validity of historical practices He takes into account what modern medicine botany pharmacy pharmacology demography and anthropology have to say on the records Riddle viii Contraceptives have been used by hundreds of generations by people faced with the same problems of todays society Riddle hopes that we can learn from the past and realize that our times are not quite as unique as we think they are The book begins with a discussion of how population and sex have been related over the years Here Riddle looks at what methods existed to limit conception and birth Riddle questions that if people had the normal biological urges for sexual intercourse but did not want to increase their numbers how did they limit reproduction Riddle examines seven factors of population
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