Chapter 5: The legalization of birth control in North America
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This case considers the evolution of the constructed social phenomena surrounding the legality of birth control use and dissemination from the 1700s through to the present time. The case shows how social conditions and concerns, technological advances and legal rulings served to open up windows of opportunity for social entrepreneurs to pursue an adjacent possible – those new realities that are now, but were not previously, acceptable due to a change in present conditions. The rivalry between those who fought for the innovation and those who fought against is at the core of this case. The ability to capitalize on a window of opportunity is strongly associated with the strength of the coalition, the group’s organization, their financial and social resources and their relative power and reputation. Incremental attempts to pursue an adjacent possible most often succeeded when windows of opportunity were discovered and explored. Otherwise, no matter how organized, attempts to create change tended to be met with resistance, hostility and legal action.

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