The Fertility Doctor (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) is the second book I’ve co-authored with my sister Wanda Ronner. I’m a historian, she’s a gynecologist, and we’ve spent the last two decades thinking, talking, and writing about the history and cultural significance of reproductive medicine and its practice. Our first collaboration resulted in The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present. Also published by Johns Hopkins University Press, it was honored as a Choice Outstanding Academic Book in 1997.
We had always known how important John Rock was to the history of birth control as the co-developer of the oral contraceptive, but until we were working on The Empty Cradle, we hadn’t realized how central he had been to the development of the entire field of reproductive medicine. As we learned more about his life and work, we decided that this was a story we wanted to tell, and that with her expertise in obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health, and mine in the history of women and gender, we were uniquely prepared to do so.
The Fertility Doctor is a biography of one of the leading figures in twentieth-century medicine. It is also the story of the origins of the reproductive revolution, with its twin symbols of the Pill and technologically assisted reproduction.