In January 1983, the FDA held one of only two scientific “Public Boards
of Inquiry” in the history of the administration to determine whether to
approve Depo-Provera for use as a contraceptive in the United States.
At the hearing, ideas about gender and power played a central role in
negotiations between scientists, doctors, patients, and women’s health
activists. The nature of the Depo-Provera Public Board of Inquiry lends
itself to analysis of the interaction between and among these groups,
each of which had a vested interest in the outcome of the FDA decision.
The stories and strategies emerging from the actors involved in the
Public Board of Inquiry reveal the enormous complexity of regulating
reproduction in the late twentieth century.