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Barbara Madden-Bittle papers

Identifier: IWA0864

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Scope and Contents

The Barbara Madden-Bittle papers date from 1970 to 1979 and measure 5 linear inches. The papers are organized in four series: Iowans for Medical Control of Abortion (IMCA), the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood of Iowa, and the Polk County Rape/Sexual Assault Care Center Committee.

The IMCA series (1970-1979) includes drafts of legislative bills, correspondence with legislators and allies, internal memos and newsletters, as well as notes and newspaper articles.

The NARAL series (1975-1979) consists of newspaper clippings, internal memos and newsletters, and correspondence.

The Planned Parenthood of Iowa series (1977-1979) contains newsletters published by the organization, as well as internal memos, relating both to abortion and rape prevention.

The Polk County Rape/Sexual Assault Care Center (1977-1979) series contains internal memos, correspondence with local law enforcement on response and prosecution of sexual assault, and educational materials for women.


  • Creation: 1970-1979


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

In January 1970, Barbara Madden-Bittle and fellow Des Moines homemakers founded an organization that would agitate for the legalization of abortion in Iowa--Iowans for Medical Control of Abortion (IMCA). The group supported state senator Charlene Conklin’s bill to repeal an 1858 statewide ban on abortion. Promoting themselves as homemakers and mothers, they did not self-identity as activists. Within a month IMCA grew to become a state-wide organization.

Following the defeat of Conklin’s bill, the group, though founded as a short term organization, restructured into a permanent organization with the goal of securing the legalization of abortion in Iowa. Following the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, IMCA opposed efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning abortion. IMCA also worked to defeat a proposed 1974 ‘conscience clause’ that would have allowed physicians and hospitals to refuse abortion and sterilization procedures.

Madden-Bittle was elected in 1975 to the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) board of directors, and joined Planned Parenthood of Iowa in 1977. She also served on the board of the Polk County Rape/Sexual Assault Care Center Committee, which advocated for sexual assault victims’ rights and promoted rape education.


5.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



Pro-choice activist and cofounder of Iowans for Medical Control of Abortion (IMCA).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1303) were donated by Barbara Madden-Bittle in 2012.

Christina Jensen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)