In October, author Jonathan Eig published a book that took a left field from his previous non-fiction works on Lou Gehrig, Al Capone, and Jackie Robinson. That book, “The Birth of the Pill,” chronicles four main “characters” that revolutionized how women—and people in general—started to think about their reproductive choices, specifically giving women more protection and control over their own bodies.
The most common contraceptive in our current day and age was unheard of in the 1950s, and the very thought of it was looked down on. Back then, birth control was held in the hands of men.
If you have any interest in history and science, you should consider picking up this book. Eig does a great job interweaving the different histories of four pioneers who teamed up to develop an oral contraceptive for women. These four people—a scientist, a doctor, a feminist, and a philanthropist—all came from different walks of life, yet somehow teamed up to develop and pursue a cause they believed in.
Even if you don’t have an interest in history and science, it’s a great look into how attitudes change over time. Back in the fifties, this team of pioneers faced immense adversity and social pressure to stop their work, yet they continued to research and advocate for women’s health. Eventually, they created a pill that allowed women to take control of their body, and consequently revolutionized women’s health.
In 1957, the FDA approved the pill… but only for menstrual-related issues. But women still used the pill as a contraceptive. Finally in 1960, it was approved as an oral contraceptive, and so continued the saga of the pill. Now it’s one of the most common birth control methods used today, and the pill now can treat acne, abnormal or irregular periods, and menstrual pain.
May 9th is the anniversary of the FDA approval of the pill. As the day comes and goes, remember the struggle and hard work of these four pioneers to help us take control of our bodies, and thank them for their effort! Without them, we may still be subject to the whims of our bodies and society.
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