A War on Women

March 2, 1923. In Wichita, Kansas, Mary Irby and Euna Hollowell are being held at the county jail. The two women are charged with “lewdly abiding.” Translation: officials suspect them of carrying a sexually transmitted infection. Hollowell, Irby, and many women like them will go on to be forcibly examined and incarcerated under a public health program known as “The American Plan.” This initiative resulted in decades of mass incarceration of tens of thousands of American women. How was it possible for the U.S. government to publicly wage war on women? And how did those women fight back?

Special thank you to our guest Scott W. Stern, author of The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison "Promiscuous" Women.

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