Summary: The Pill Kills ’11
Summary: The Pill Kills ’11
Summary: The Pill Kills ’10
Summary: The Pill Kills ’09
Summary: The Pill Kills ’08

History of the Pill

1873:
The U.S. Congress passes the Comstock Law, which prohibits the distribution of obscene material through the U.S. mail or across state lines. It specifically identifies contraceptives as obscene.

1912:
Radical feminist Margaret Sanger conceives of a "magic pill" contraceptive. Sanger later founded the American Birth Control League, which eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation.

1930:
On August 15, the Lambeth Conference (a periodic meeting of the Anglican Church's bishops) approves the use of contraceptives. This was a radical departure from the constant Christian tradition of considering contraception immoral. After 1930, other Protestant denominations begin to allow contraception. On December 31, Pope Pius XI issues the encyclical Casti Connubii (Of Chaste Marriage), which, among other things, reaffirms the Catholic Church's constant teaching against contraception and abortion.

1951:
Sanger obtains a Planned Parenthood grant for Dr. Gregory Pincus, a biologist, to research hormonal contraceptives, but the funding soon runs out. Earlier, Pincus had shocked the public by his in vitro fertilization of rabbits.

1953:
Sanger convinces Katharine McCormick, a radical feminist and wealthy philanthropist, to fund the pill research project and Pincus continues his research.

1954:
Pincus and Dr. John Rock, a Catholic ob-gyn who violates Church teachings by advocating contraception, begin human trials of the pill. To bypass Massachusetts's anti-birth control laws, they claim the study is about infertility. Fifty female infertility patients volunteer to participate in the study, but the pill is also given to 12 female and 16 male psychiatric patients without their direct consent.

1955:
The pill is proven to prevent ovulation in all 50 women. Pincus presents the findings at the Fifth Annual International Planned Parenthood League conference in Tokyo, Japan and Rock does the same at the Laurentian Conference on Endocrinology in Canada. The news that a birth control pill has been developed then spreads rapidly among scientists.

1956:
Large-scale human clinical trials of the pill begin, to gain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pincus chooses Puerto Rico as the location because it provides a large pool of poor, uneducated women who can be easily monitored. The local doctor in charge of the study tells Pincus that the pill causes "too many side reactions to be generally acceptable." However, Pincus and Rock dismiss her findings and do not investigate what causes the side effects, nor do they investigate the cause of death for three women who die during the trials.

1957:
The FDA approves usage of the pill to treat severe menstrual disorders and requires that its packaging include a warning that it will prevent ovulation.

1960:
The pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle obtains FDA approval to sell the pill as a contraceptive, despite the FDA's initial misgivings about its long-term safety. It becomes the first FDA-approved drug to be given to healthy patients for long-term use and for social purposes.

1961:
Dr. C. Lee Buxton, Yale Medical School's OB-GYN department chairman, and Estelle Griswold, executive director of Planned Parenthood, open four Planned Parenthood clinics in Connecticut, where the use of birth control is illegal. They are arrested and the Griswold v. Connecticut case begins to work its way through the court system.

1962:
Serious side effects from the pill, such as blood clots and heart attacks, begin to be publicized. Searle receives reports of 132 blood clots, 11 of which were terminal, but denies that they are caused by the pill.

1965:
The U.S. Supreme Court decides Griswold v. Connecticut by overturning the law prohibiting the use of birth control, thereby decriminalizing poison in the form of the pill.

1967:
The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People accuses Planned Parenthood of promoting birth control in minority neighborhoods in order to drastically reduce the black birth rate. The term "black genocide" thus comes into use.

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