November 4, 2014 – The Pill


Anchor lead:  How important was the invention of the birth control pill in the twentieth century? Elizabeth Tracey reports

“The Birth of the Pill,’ a book chronicling the invention of the oral contraceptive, written by Jonathan Eig, was the subject of a recent symposium at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Eig says its very appearance was surprising.

Eig: The birth control pill comes out of nowhere really, it’s the first drug for healthy people, it’s the first lifestyle drug, and it really changes the way we think about the world  :08

A multitude of forces were arrayed against the pill’s development.

Eig: Got no support from any major institution, no drug company, no university, no government funding, and you’re trying to do something that’s illegal.  Contraception was illegal in the 1950s.  The Supreme Court did not grant women the right to use birth control until 1965. So they have this very small obstacle there, how do you run clinical trials on something that’s ostensibly illegal?   :19

The pill has been credited with allowing women to pursue education and career as well as shifting the power dynamic between men and women by allowing women to choose pregnancy and spacing of children, a WHO goal.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.