The Pill Turns 50
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.
From the Washington Post: