A brief history of The Pill | Politics in Focus

By 1962, 1.2 million U.S. women were using the Enovid birth control pill. By 1963, the numbers almost doubled, according to a PBS timeline. Between 2006 and 2008, 82.3 percent of American women aged 15 to 44 were using an oral contraceptive pill (Centers for Disease Control). Today, between 80 million and 100 million women worldwide are using The Pill.

The birth control pill, first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960, has changed the world.

By 1962, 1.2 million U.S. women were using it. By 1963, the numbers almost doubled, according to a PBS timeline. Between 2006 and 2008, 82.3 percent of American women aged 15 to 44 were using an oral contraceptive pill (Centers for Disease Control). Today, between 80 million and 100 million women worldwide are using The Pill.

Its effects are far ranging: sexual attitudes and gender roles have shifted. Couples are delaying marriage. Premarital sex has increased. In addition, The Pill has led to a sharp increase in college attendance and college degrees for women. This technological advance has far-reaching social and moral effects.

Before we examine these modern attitudes brought on by the development of The Pill, let’s journey back to a time where there was no birth control pill. Couples tended to marry earlier and, as a result, have more children. If a young woman got pregnant, there was a strong social stigma for her and shame for her family. Her life could be ruined. It wasn’t uncommon for women to leave town and go to another area where she would wait in privacy to have her child.  It could drastically change a woman’s education and career plans, as well as her husband’s if they got married.

Most who are in their 60s and older remember the drastic change in thinking that has evolved in their lifetimes because of The Pill.

I remember my mother’s aphorism growing up in the 1950s. “The first child can come at any time, the second takes nine months.” How attitudes have changed since my childhood!

According to a Harvard study by Harding and Jencks on premarital sex, more than 75 percent of American adults surveyed in 1979 said premarital sex was wrong. By the 1980s, only 33 to 37 percent thought it was “always” or “almost always wrong.” With the rising U.S. divorce rate in the 1960s and 1970s and the development of The Pill, attitudes about premarital sex changed. Today, premarital sex has become the norm for the majority of the unmarried in America. Additionally, women now earn 60 percent of the college degrees. One of the factors for this shift change is the development and use of the birth control pill.

According to Margaret Wendt in her book, “An Accidental Canadian,” “The pill decoupled sex and marriage, and it also decoupled marriage and procreation. The purpose of marriage was mutual satisfaction, not children, and once that happened, gay marriage probably became inevitable.”  In other words, with the development of The Pill in 1960, attitudes about homosexuality changed as well.

No wonder approval of the birth control pill in 1960 has become known as “the most significant medical advance of the 20th century” (BBC News).

Clearly, the development of The Pill, now 53 years old, has changed attitudes and actions of both women and men. It has changed our culture dramatically. The Pill’s development has fostered a phenomenon that few of us have stopped to consider.

 

More in Opinion

America’s monster

I’m not sure when it happened, but I recently realized I’ve stopped asking myself, “What are we going to do about mass shootings and gun violence in this country?” Instead, I now ask, “When is the carnage going to come to Enumclaw?”

Avoiding loss means more than gaining something else

Some studies have shown that losses are twice as psychologically powerful as gains. American history and our current political situation help reveal a great deal about the American/human psyche.

Congratulations, Jan Molinaro

In every election, one person must win and the other will lose. Now more than ever, it is important to show our children how to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

Don’t give into the pressure of driving drowsy

Eleven years ago, a drowsy-driving car wreck left me with injuries that still challenge me today.

Opening our minds can be a beautiful thing

As a leader of my church’s Sunday Adult Forum, I had a goal: to put a human face on Islam for the members of the congregation and community.

The definition of insanity

It is totally clear that the incumbent mayor lacks any ability to bring people together and get things done. She is a failure as mayor, making Black Diamond a laughing stock with her out of control behavior and outbursts at Council meetings.

Baxley and Young should have showed up at public forum

On Tuesday, October 17th, was the Black Diamond Maple Valley Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum, where the Black Diamond candidates for Mayor and two City Council positions had the opportunity to talk with the citizens of Black Diamond, and to answer questions put to them by these citizens.

Issues to be addressed in Enumclaw elections

Who should I vote for in the Enumclaw City Council and mayoral races?

Enumclaw helped raise $3,500 for Special Olympics

The last couple of weekends the St. Barbara Knights of Columbus have been involved with our annual Tootsie Roll Program.

Court grapples with school funding

When the legal battle on education funding returned to the state Supreme Court Tuesday, the leader of Washington’s public school system was closely monitoring this installment of the McCleary drama from his office down the street.

Baxley is an important choice for Black Diamond mayor

Judy Baxley has been part of our local civics for years, and thank goodness because citizen involvement is critical to monitoring big developers.

Enumclaw chamber board supports Molinaro for mayor

In an election with significant consequences that will largely shape the future of our community, Enumclaw voters have a clear choice for mayor.