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Sarah Rodriguez

Senior Lecturer, Global Health Studies and Medical Education; Senior Faculty, Medical Humanities and Bioethics

PhD University of Nebraska Medical Center 2005

Research and Teaching Interests

History of women’s reproductive and sexual health, contemporary concerns regarding women’s reproductive and sexual health internationally, history of medicine, history of global health, history of global bioethics, contemporary issues in global bioethics


Sarah B. Rodriguez is a medical historian who focuses on women’s reproductive and sexual health since the early 20th century, and how history has framed current discourse.

Her first book, published in the fall of 2014, Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy in the United States: A History of a Medical Treatment, prompted Rodriguez to examine the ways female circumcision and clitoridectomy are regarded as foreign cultural practices performed for non-medical reasons. She is currently writing an article concerning how female circumcision and clitoridectomy are framed by the WHO, USAID, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to other international organizations, and the importance of adding the American historical context to this frame.

Rodriguez is also working on the history of episiotomy, with one paper looking at how the routine practice of this procedure during childbirth was challenged by women’s health activists, home-birth advocates, and nurse-midwives in the United States in the 1970s and a second paper on how evidence-based medicine has affected the practice of routine episiotomy in countries where there has been a recent push to move childbirth to the clinic. In the future, Rodriguez plans on doing research to write a history on the ‘standard of care debate’ regarding the mid-1990s trials to reduce the likelihood of vertical transmission of HIV from mother to fetus.

Prior to joining Northwestern’s faculty, Rodriguez was a postdoctural fellow at Northwestern University, first in the Woodruff Laboratory with the Oncofertility Consortium and then in the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program.

Global Health Courses Taught

Recent Publications

  • Rodriguez, S. (2015). Watching the Watch-Glass: Miriam Menkin and One Woman’s Work in Reproductive Science, 1938–1952. Women's Studies, 44(4), 451-467. DOI: 10.1080/00497878.2015.1013215
  • Listen to a interview with Sarah Rodriguez 
  • Read an interview at the Global Health Portal blog with Sarah Rodriguez 
  • Rodriguez, S. B. (2013). Female sexuality and consent in public discourse: James Burt's "love surgery". Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42(3), 343-351. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-012-0030-8
  • Rodriguez, S., Campo-Engelstein, L., & Emanuel, L. (2013). Fertile future? potential social implications of oncofertility. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 31(6), 665-667. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2012.44.0990
  • Rodriguez, S. B., Campo-Engelstein, L., Clayman, M. L., Knapp, C., Quinn, G., Zoloth, L., & Emanuel, L. (2013). Pathways toward the future: Points to consider for oncofertility oversight. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 7(1), 140-145. DOI: 10.1007/s11764-012-0255-5
  • Campo-Engelstein, L., Tingen, C., Rodriguez, S., & Woodruff, T. K. (2012). Conceiving ethical gamete and embryo research in a post-dickey-wicker USA. Science and Public Policy, 39(1), 129-132. DOI: 10.3152/030234212X13214603531888
  • Rodriguez, S. B., & Schonfeld, T. L. (2012). The Organ-That-Must-Not-Be-Named: Female Genitals and Generalized References. Hastings Center Report, 42(3), 19-21. DOI: 10.1002/hast.35
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