View Full Version : History of Birth Control

11-24-2013, 10:55 PM
It struck me that Hakim's last book mentions Rowe.v.Wade . . . but never talked about the history of birth control. I"d read an amazing article 3 years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the pill. I didnt find that, but I found this timeline on PBS. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/timeline/index.html)

In 1873, our Congress classified birth control as obscene and made it illegal to send it in the mail or sell across state lines.

40 years later, even an article about the usefulness of birth control was forbidden under that same law.

In 1923 a woman manages to open a clinic providing birth control legally, but only to prevent life-threatening pregnancies.

1936, after a legal battle, physicians gain the right to buy shipments of birth control from overseas.

In the 50s, 30 states still have laws restricting the sale of birth control - meaning condoms and diaphragms . . . because of restrictive laws, most of the testing of the pill has to happen in Puerto Rico, Haiti and Mexico. In 1957 FDA approve the pill for severe menstrual disorders, and by 1959 many women have suddenly developed severe menstrual disorders!

The pill is approved for sale as a contraceptive in 1960 and in 1965 the supreme court strikes down Ct's law prohibiting the use of contraceptives.

Isnt this crazy?! I was born in 1965 . . . its so crazy to think how hard women (and some male doctors) had to work to give people the option to not have babies. Planned Parenthood played a big role in the fight.

11-24-2013, 11:37 PM
Margaret Sanger's bio makes for a sad, yet interesting, read. I vaguely remember reading about how the initial birth control pills were extremely high in hormones and women began developing cancers...it was controversial in the beginning for many reasons.

12-02-2013, 12:43 PM
It seems like a big oversight, too. When I took the AP History exam, there was a political cartoon (similar to the one here: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/secure/aboutms/organization_bcr.html) that we had to analyze. I hadn't learned anything about this in school, but--as luck would have it--my mom had been teaching me this stuff for ages.

12-02-2013, 03:17 PM
I just happened to be having a conversation about birth control with my daughter the other day. She suddenly realized why birth control was so revolutionary for women's lives. She loves history and is very familiar with the idea that women didn't have rights/choices/education, etc..., but she had a light-bulb moment when she realized that it had a lot to do with the fact that they couldn't avoid getting pregnant. No point educating a woman or letting her do anything interesting because she was hopelessly prone to pregnancy/childbirth/nursing, etc....

12-03-2013, 09:19 AM
Interesting. I was just at a restaurant called cabbages and condoms.... with the kids. They are owned by a nonprofit that provides, among other things, birth control and family planning options and information to Thailand's rural poor. There were some hilarious decor items made of condoms and they handed out condoms rather than mints or wet naps at the end of meals. On the way into the restaurant are dozens of family planning themed posters that told a bit of the history of family planning in thailand, international laws abortion, and the benefits of family planning/spacing out children for the rural poor, and of course some safe sex info. It was half silly, half serious, with no graphic images.

It led to some interesting conversations at the dinner table, especially since my youngest thought all the condoms were lemons (???).