In 1972, the USFDA denied the Upjohn Corporation approval to produce and sell Depo-Provera—an injectable hormonal contraceptive—in the United States. Simultaneously, development experts promoted Depo-Provera as a form of aid to send abroad, especially in Africa and Asia. If one of the basic premises of biomedicine is the universality of the body and medical efficacy, what made Depo-Provera unsafe in one part of the world but efficacious in another? What did women around the world who were offered Depo-Provera have in common? This essay tracks how different actors—population control advocates, anti-Depo-Provera activists, and family planning workers—responded to the questions raised by Depo-Provera’s uneven global distribution. As an historical artifact, Depo-Provera reveals the multiple ways communities thought about global power at a moment of transition away from a world order structured by the logic of empires and toward a world bifurcated between Global North and South.

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