What better tribute to mothers than a birthday party for The Pill. The Pill has probably been one of the top 5 inventions of the last century that has altered our society the most.

In Sunday’s Washington Post, columnist Elaine Tyler May celebrates The Pill:

Forget the single girl and the sexual revolution. The pill was not anti-mother; it was for mothers. And it changed motherhood more than it changed anything else. Its great accomplishment was not in preventing motherhood, but in making it better by allowing women to have children on their own terms.

A glance at history tells us that  up through the late 19th  century, nearly all women seemed to have endless children. My own grandfather was one of 9. These weren’t country people. Sure, they had rural roots but they weren’t having children to work the farm. They had children because they didn’t know how to not have children. Endless childbirth robbed women of their health and often their lives.  My own great grandmother was a victim. It’s impossible to take a cursory walk through a 19th century cemetery without noticing the number of untimely deaths of women in their child-bearing years. 

Women did a little better as they moved through the 20th century toward 1960, when the FDA approved the use of THE Pill for contraceptive purposes. Barrier methods of contraception as well as some chemical products improved a woman’s chanced of preventing unwanted pregnancy. However, it wasn’t until 1960 that The Pill really altered the way American couples married and had families.

The Pill wasn’t without great controversy. Even FDA approval was not easy to come by. There were moral and religious objections, social objections, and a fear that sexual behavior would somehow alter our sexual mores forever. Perhaps it did. However, there is something very liberating about being able to control one’s own reproduction.  It is almost frightening to realize the Griswald vs. Connecticut wasn’t decided until 1965, making contraception of any kind a right of privacy.  Griswold guaranteed that states could not prevent the use of contraception.  Griswold isn’t 50 yet. 


The Griswold Case 

The pill: Making motherhood better for 50 years

From the Washington Post:

18 Thoughts to “The Pill Turns 50”

  1. Emma

    Can you imagine any rational man choosing to take a pill that would increase his risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke?

    Men don’t like condoms because they can’t “feel” everything. Men don’t like vasectomies either out of fear or because they want to keep their options open. So why would the male-dominated pharma industry developed a pill for themselves when women are such willing lab rats?

  2. Emma

    And Happy Mother’s Day.

  3. Lafayette

    Happy Mother’s Day, Emma and all mothers.

    Excellent points regarding men. Can’t touch their “manliness”. Give me a break. I’d like to know why a married woman needs her husband’s signature for a Tuba Ligation, yet a man doesn’t need his wife’s signature to get snipped. Is this caveman mentality still true?

  4. Lafayette

    corr: Tubal

  5. Men take Viagra, women birth control pills. I find that funny as hell, for some reason. But I’m a little sick that way.

    On a better topic, I’m glad I wasn’t on birth control when my kids came along. Life would have been very different without them–less filled with joy, for certain, no matter what stress parenting brings.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all!

  6. @Emma

    Real men get vasectomies. The procedure is far less invasive for men than women.

    No modern medicine is without complications. Comparing complications of The Pill to complications of pregnancy….check out those 19th century cemeteries.

    The biggest problem with The Pill is that there has been very little R & D in 50 years. there haven’t been too many advances made in birth control.

    As for male-dominated pharma-industry…it would be even more male dominated if it weren’t for The Pill. The women would still be in the secretarial pool, teachers, nurses or librarians. All fine, time-honored professions but rather limiting if you want to be a pharmacist.

  7. @Lafayette

    Married men also had to get a wife’s signature for a vasectomy 30 some years ago. I don’t know about nowadays. It is rather cave-man thinking though. I don’t mind notification, I do mind ‘permission.’

  8. Visitor

    Women don’t need anyone’s permission to get their tubes tied, and they haven’t for decades if ever. That’s just PP/NARAL lies to encourage donations. But don’t believe me, Google it.

    1. Bull crap. I believe Chris is speaking from personal experience.

      Why would Planned Parenthood or NARAL lie about tubals? What’s in it for them?

  9. @Visitor
    Visitor, this was not the case in 1999 when I had my tubal. I was pretty PO’d.

  10. Emma

    One of the reasons why I despise abortion is the element of exploitation, if you are willing to look closely enough. The woman gets all of the physical and emotional fallout, while the guy gets continued financial security.

    With all of the advances, we have not really come very far in some respects. The technologies to some extent still manage to keep women in their place and to avoid any real inconvenience to men. It’s all still really HER problem.

  11. I don’t despise abortion. I think abortion is sad. There is a difference. I am glad it is out there as a safety net…but my feelings on that subject are well-known and today is about women being able to be mothers.

    We can’t totally buck Mother Nature. As long as women get pregnant and men don’t, the playing field won’t be level. So that means all the tools to level the playing field should go to the women. And there is definitely collateral damage in doing that also. Ultimately, men have no real say in whether to become fathers or not. It is always the woman’s choice as long as abortion and birth control are available.

    Every once in a while, a really decent guy gets screwed by this arrangement.

    But today is about how these tools help mothers. Just being around to see your children to adulthood has been greatly enhanced by the use of contraception. Those women who had 8, 9, 10-15 children often died prematurely. Couples really were the victims of sexuality and biology.

    My great Aunt Mildred raised her brothers and sisters. and then a couple of nieces. She was the 2nd oldest of 9 and her mother died leaving a young women with a lot of siblings. Mil never married. She was a very attractive woman. She probably saw what marriage and having endless children did to her mother. She taught school and later became a principal in Charlottesville. I think she was quite happy with her life. And she should be saluted as one of my family’s mothers, even though she never herself bore children. She was a mother to half the kids in Charlottesville.

  12. Lafayette


    You are wrong!!!I’m a woman that’s had the procedure. I guess you aren’t from
    The Old Dominion or are rather new to it, or you would know what I said was the truth. YOU should get your facts straight. I don’t need to google jack!! I know from first hand experience with MY tubes what a married woman must go through.

    Moon, is right about vasectomies. The unfortunate thing is not many men are MAN enough to get snipped. A real man would, vice a woman having to undergo surgery.


  13. Visitor asked for that one. I knew that was coming. 👿

  14. bubberella

    When Mr. Ette has a vasectomy in 97, I had to sign permission.

  15. bubberella

    I mean “had”.

  16. Lafayette

    That’s crazy too. I know that hasn’t always been true in Va.. A person’s person is just that, their person, not another living soul’s.

    1. I don’t remember if I signed permission or just notification.

Comments are closed.