The Pill and America

Friday, May 07, 2010

Historian Elaine Tyler May talks about how the pill changed America. In America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation she describes how women saw that the pill was about much more than family planning—it offered women control over their bodies and their lives, and it created a great cultural shift. She uses personal accounts of the early years and testimonies from young women today to illuminate what the pill has—and has not—achieved during its half-century on the market.


Elaine Tyler May

Comments [18]


Short of an actual study, you can easily make the case that there is a statistical correlation between contraception, NFP, and divorce, when the numbers are so dramatically different (contracepting couples divorce rate abou 50%, NFP couples conservatively below 10%). Also, your argument that it's because Catholics don't believe in divorce doesn't hold either, because the divorce rate among Catholics parallels that of everyone else, and Catholics aren't the only ones who practice NFP. A professional study would certainly help get harder, more refined data, but you can't turn a blind's eye to the fact that there may actually be something about couples who practice NFP, for whatever reason, that end up getting divorced much less.

May. 10 2010 09:10 AM
Ed from Larchmont

I agree that there are other factors involved, but couples that use NFP have to communicate more and work together more, and that helps the relationship,among other things.

May. 10 2010 08:29 AM

The statistics about NFP and divorce are meaningless as an explanation of cause of divorce. Couples who practice NFP are probably religious Catholics who don't believe in divorce even if they have problems. You can't presume from that that NFP produces a more loving marriage. The only conclusion you can reliably draw is that the couples are more religious in practice.

May. 07 2010 06:22 PM
Ed from Larchmont

That's a good question. In artificial contraception one is creating a barrier which changes the meaning of the act. It's meant to be an act of total gift of one person to the other, and it's love of the whole person, including her fertility. And artificial contraception makes it a lie.
On the other hand, if it's not prudent to have a child at this time, a couple can avoid sexual relations during the time the woman is fertile. This is not changing the meaning of the act, only using it according to reason and circumstance.
And, as Leonard Lopate mentioned that he feels ashamed, there is no shame or guilt here but correct use. And from what I've heard, it really works well.

May. 07 2010 03:08 PM


Is't it the sex without the intent of procreation, not the method used which is the "sin"?

Why is it okay to use trickery to have sex without getting pregnant?

May. 07 2010 01:16 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Body awareness sounds suspicially like natural family planning.

May. 07 2010 01:02 PM
Barbara from Monmouth Beach, NJ

In 1969, when I was 22, and living in a large city in upstate NY, there was only one ob/gyn who would prescribe "the Pill" to women who weren't married. It also happens that he was voyeuristic in his conversations with them, but young women endured this just to gain access to the pill. By the way, the diaphragm often caused urinary tract infections and the IUD often caused serious infections (even recalls of the Dalkon Shield in 1975), so the pill was an important alternative. Unfortunately, the early pill versions lead to blood clots in some women, but that has since been largely corrected.

May. 07 2010 12:59 PM
Brandon Lacy Campos from Manhattan

Your guest just shared some egregiously wrong information. MOST of the women in Puerto Rico were tricked into being sterilized having been told it was a reversible procedure AND none of the women were counseled about the risks of the high dosage pill and there were massive problems in Puerto Rico. She needs to see and commit to memory the documentary La Operacion, which takes candidly about this and documents these issues through interviews with women from the 60s and 70s in Puerto Rico. Your guests flippant suggestion that this was seen by the women in PR as a "contraceptive opportunity" is not accurate and makes invisible the pain and history of U.S. backed population control in Puerto Rico. Shameful.

May. 07 2010 12:56 PM
Allister White from Manhattan

I am an American who travels each month to Central America. The pill? Ha! The place is like a time machine back to the 50's. Life is good indeed.

May. 07 2010 12:54 PM
Megan from Brooklyn

Your guest mentions Puerto Rico...I would like to hear her comments on the effects that the MANUFACTURING of the Pill in Puerto Rico had and it's subsequent tainting of waters with estrogen, which caused countless cases of pre-mature growth of breasts in girls as young as 4 years old. A scandal.

May. 07 2010 12:53 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The pill is also an abortafacient. A doctor of NPF said that there were more abortions caused by the pill than by induced abortion.

May. 07 2010 12:53 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It works by making women pseudo-pregnant.

May. 07 2010 12:52 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Freedom to do what? Freedom to kill someone?

May. 07 2010 12:46 PM
Ed from Larchmont

And the point is that it really benefits relationships.

May. 07 2010 12:35 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Actually the one year rates of success for NFP are 99% for people who understand it well, 96% for people who understand it partially. The success rate over one year for the pill is 92%, same with condoms.

May. 07 2010 12:34 PM
jess from Brooklyn

Unwanted children cause more divorce than the pill Ed. And NFP results in children, at some point.

May. 07 2010 12:19 PM
peter from vancouver

ed, anyone who isn't catholic knows that 'natural family planning' simply doesn't work. also, trying to link divorce and the use of contraception is ridiculous.

May. 07 2010 12:04 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Couples that use natural family planning (NFP) have a divorce rate that is less than 5%, couples that use the pill have a divorce rate around 50%. The pill helped redefine sexual relations and seriously weakened families, not by itself, of course. There is a growing movement back to NFP in the US.

May. 07 2010 08:19 AM

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