Happy Birthday Pill!

Karol Collymore

June 7, 2006 is the 40th anniversary of your best friend and mine, the birth control pill.  It's improved so much over the last 40 years and many women (and men) don't know where they would be with out it.  Not only does it prevent pregnancy, some brands improve the condition of your skin, promote regular menstruation, and lessen the intolerable pain of cramps.  I ask you, who's little joke was it to deliver cramps to my uterus every 28 days?  Thanks a lot, Eve. 

In the subsequent years, off shoots have come along - the patch, the nuva ring, the shot, the weird thing under your arm skin, and Plan B.  Who didn't do a happy dance when Plan B came along? 

All of these items reduce the need for abortion, I think we can agree on that fact.  However, with over 1,900 days and counting, the FDA has still not moved a muscle into approving Plan B's purchase without a prescription.  One panel member has said that he thinks the drug would lead to teen sex cults.  The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has publicly blasted the FDA for stalling.  They are encouraging women to stock up on Plan B.  There are also more challenges in getting insurance companies to cover birth control methods and having Medicaid cover abortions.  In the military, female soldiers can have plastic surgery covered but not abortion.  President Bush still pushes abstinence until marriage programs for schools even though there is no proof that it works.

In a surge of stronger, more warped family values, the pill and all its forms are being attacked by the American Life League, among others.  Apparently, women who take the pill are "anti-child" and if their birth control were to fail, they would likely have an abortion.  What?  The fact that they put this on the news astounds me because there is no basis in fact.   Lots of us want to have children, just not one a year.  And how, by the way, do these conservatives manage their ability to not have 10 children each?

As usual, women are sacrificial lambs in the debate about sex and methods of medical birth control since, we are the ones responsible for purchasing and ingesting.  We have been called promiscuous, adulterous, and apparently we start sex cults.  Men are rarely mentioned and never seem to have to take responsibility in the conservative mind.   So, if we continue to take the brunt and we should continue to fight the good fight.

As you are scurrying to cast your ballot, please keep women's sexual health in mind.  We are over 50% of the population and if you want more progressives on earth to carry on the mission, you should keep us happy.  Please do not vote for an anti-choice candidate, even if he or she hugs trees, promises to bike to work, builds no casinos in the Gorge, and fully funds schools - yeah, like there's a candidate like that who exists. 

So friends, stock up on your Plan B and visit www.prochoiceoregon.org or www.voteequality.com to see your best bets for pro-choice candidates. 

  • Anne (unverified)

    Thank you for bringing this up.

    The NYT Mag did a great spread on the right's incremental war on contraception.

    Turns out the "culture of life" means only unborn, unimplanted, cellular life, not actual, self-sufficient, breathing, women's life. Turns out, the right doesn't actually want to reduce abortion, they really want to reduce women's independence.

    That really pisses me off. I thought we had reached some sort of national consensus on women's right to determine what happens to their own bodies and how planned and wanted children grow up happier and healthier and the value that women contribute to the economy and society when they're not required to be pregnant all the time.

    I'm thoroughly disturbed that the right wants to turn back the clock, dismiss advances in science and medicine, subject women (and the planet's population) to enforced pregnancy, encourage unwanted children, and eject women from the workforce. They call those values!

  • mconley (unverified)

    Hey, yesterday we women of Blue Oregon were accused of not blogging enough, so thanks, Karol for correcting that.

    I used to write for NARAL and NOW back in the day and I kind of thought they were over the top when they said the people who were against abortion would eventually go after birth control. May I now apologize for that naivete. These people won't stop until we're all dressed in those Amish Burkas ala the polygamist Loonies living in compounds.

    As to why the guys who run the FDA (isn't one a veterinarian?) and push these policies don't have 10 children... uhhhh... I'd bet it's cuz with their lack of respect for women, they don't get much action.

  • KG Azegami (unverified)

    Hey, Karol, exactly what's the anniversary? Discovery? Legalisation?

  • anonymous (unverified)

    I'm afraid this post if off by a year. June 7th marks the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Griswold vs. Connecticut, which upheld the constitutional right for married couples to use birth control. GvC was decided in 1965, though, so unless something else happened a year later on the same day that I'm missing, 2006 is actually the 41st anniversary.

    Planned Parenthood had a big to-do last year.

  • nader (unverified)

    I'll tell you what, this whole topic gets my blood boiling so much - only my girlfriend gets even more angry than I do.

    I almost burst a blood vessel the other night when I caught a soundbite for a local news bit asking the question, "What do you think about women who aren't even pregnant getting a prescription for the morning after pill?"

    What? Is this supposed to be objective because they pose it as a question? The so-called morning after pill should be issued (on government dime) to every female upon reaching puberty. Having to wait until you're pregnant is just plain silly. Do you have to wait until you are aroused before purchasing a condom? It's preventative, and there is no reason you shouldn't have some on hand just in case you suddenly need it.

    Seriously, what's the big fear? That women will go out and get Plan B, then start selling it on the black market? We won't just have women starting sex cults, they'll be getting high on birth control meds also? What a complete joke!

    And don't get me started on the question of why their isn't a male oral contraceptive. I mean, I'm no scientist, but it doesn't seem as hard to regulate a man's reproductive system which is fairly static from day to day when compared to a female's cyclical hormonal system. At least once a year I hear of some study that's just about to perfect a male oral contraceptive - usually in Europe and rarely here in the US - but then it just drops into the void.

    I guess since the woman is the one who get's pregnant, she must bear the sole responsibility for avoiding that pregnancy despite the fact that a man was involved in the process. Then again, with the growing attack on birth control we're trying to take away a woman's tools for managing the responsibility that is dumped on her. It's like taking the prude-promiscuity paradox to another level.

    Sorry to go off like that...

  • Marvin McConoughey (unverified)

    Birth control has given humanity a chance to escape the historic sadness of other species whose population is limited by starvation, disease, and enemies. Rather than impose restrictions on birth control, we should be developing better birth control science. Needed improvements include birth control that used once remains in effect until a counteracting pill is taken. Another improvement would be a pill that would carry additional health benefits than now.

    Perhaps the biggest improvement would be a drastic reduction in cost so that cost would not be a factor in the most impoverished and overpopulated regions of the world.

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    Good points nader, about males and their more than peripheral responsibility to offer aid and comfort to the gender that does all the heavy lifting (literally) on this topic.

    I got my permanent birth control back in '74.....

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    Anon wrote... GvC was decided in 1965, though, so unless something else happened a year later on the same day that I'm missing, 2006 is actually the 41st anniversary.

    I know nothing about the details, but I'm just going to correct some math.

    If Griswold was 1965, then the 1st anniversary was one year later in 1966. The second in 1967, etc. The 40th would be 2006, even though it happened 41 years ago.

    (This is, btw, the math that gives you a one-year reprieve on forgetting to get your wife flowers ten years after your wedding date. The 10th anniversary is 11 years after you got married.)

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    I attended a lobbying event in Washington, DC recently. While there I picked up a document which outlines the right's attack on abortion, contraception, and other reproductive health rights. What we're seeing in the US is also being carried out worldwide thanks to the AIDS money that's flowing to Africa and elsewhere. The global gag rule which prohibits orgs. that receive USAID money from lobbying foreign governments on abortion issues or counseling their clients about abortion, well, that money instead is going to organizations that promote abstinence only policies. Which have not proven to be useful to anyone. Just a head's up that the attack is global, well-funded and very busy right now. I think the report was put together by SEICUS.

  • activist kaza (unverified)

    Kari: Think that's the same math that confused the world about when the real "millenium" was happening. Just like 10-yr. anniversaries, it didn't stop 99.9% of the planet from celebrating it wrong (chuckle)!


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