University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Pregnancy testing before DIY: rethinking the patient-doctor-laboratory relationship

Pregnancy testing before DIY: rethinking the patient-doctor-laboratory relationship

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Pregnancy testing has never been easier. For countless women, the home pregnancy test, a ubiquitous diagnostic tool/retail product, mediates between the uncertainty of a missed period and the decision either to prepare for motherhood or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Yet, although home testing has transformed the experience of pregnancy as much as ultrasound or amniocentesis, very little is known about its history. This talk will tell the story of laboratory pregnancy testing in Britain before the first DIY tests of the 1970s. It will argue that the market for a then controversial diagnostic service was sustained less by imposed medicalisation or the managerial state than by the entrepreneurial testers and consumers who helped to create and maintain demand. It will also rethink the patient-doctor relationship by placing routine testing more centrally in our historical understanding of modern laboratory medicine.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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