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The pill: setting nice girls free
May 10, 2005 5:05 AM   Subscribe

The Pill - 45 years ago this month, the contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA for U.S. public release, a watershed point for women, providing a prescription for equality. However, it was illegal for single women to use the pill until the 1972 Supreme Court decision of Eisenstadt v. Baird. Ex-boxer Bill Baird was an unlikely contraceptive crusader. His efforts earned imprisonment, death threats, and the enmity of many feminists. He continues his crusade today because, unfortunately, the right to contraceptives is still not a freedom we can take for granted. - more -
posted by madamjujujive (46 comments total)

 
Criminal Against Chastity - 1967 interview with Bill Baird that appeared in The Avatar

EISENSTADT v. BAIRD - U.S. Supreme Court, 405 U.S. 438 (1972)

The pill meant women could - 1964 CBC video clip of women discussing the pill from a series of historic CBC records on the pill.

Pharmacist refuses to dispense birth control - November 2004 Mefi thread
posted by madamjujujive at 5:07 AM on May 10, 2005


Bill Baird is a strong guy. I can imagine trudging through when the other side hates you. But he also suffered rampant discrimination from the pro-contraception side.

Frankly, I've never been abke to figure out why he didn't just give the misguided feminist ideologues the finger and stride briskly away. He's an incredible man.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:17 AM on May 10, 2005


what did that poor little bono girl ever do to him?
posted by quonsar at 5:21 AM on May 10, 2005


What did/do the feminists have against him?
posted by squidlarkin at 5:28 AM on May 10, 2005


What did/do the feminists have against him?

His penis. Figuratively, of course.

(And not all, or even most, feminists involved in furthering contraception shared that poison ideology. But some real winners made it into leadership positions in the 70's.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:36 AM on May 10, 2005


Is Baird famous in the States? I'd never heard of him. Sounds like he's advanced the pro-choice movement for sure.
Yes, no doubt that penis tag will get you every time in birth control debate.
Well knocked up put together madamejujujive.
posted by peacay at 5:54 AM on May 10, 2005


errr -e
posted by peacay at 5:54 AM on May 10, 2005


from the SCOTUS decision: "If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child."

"In our America, most people still believed in the power of a better tomorrow. So together we got the government off the backs of the American people." - Ronald Reagan

and now the GOP spends its days and nights conspiring with the religious right to put it back on.
posted by three blind mice at 6:00 AM on May 10, 2005


almost forgot - awesome post ms jive.
posted by three blind mice at 6:02 AM on May 10, 2005


Last night, I had a dream that all the babies prevented by the pill came back. They were mad....
posted by jonmc at 6:35 AM on May 10, 2005


Mad, eh? In that case, it's probably a good thing they were prevented by the pill.

Seriously, great post (as usual), madamjuju.
posted by soyjoy at 6:49 AM on May 10, 2005


Well done, mjj. Pre-lunch reading!
posted by dflemingdotorg at 6:58 AM on May 10, 2005


Sounds like, if they have their way, women will go from one pregnancy to the next, spending their entire productive life producing and raising children. So, less women in the workforce, more jobs for the men, who will work like slaves to bring money to their huge families, but without the irritation of having women perform better than they do. And when women want sex just for the fun of it, they will roll with their girlfriends. Seen from this perspective, everybody will be happy, no?
posted by acrobat at 7:27 AM on May 10, 2005


Yay, Pill! Yippee!

I feel very happy about this anniversary.
posted by agregoli at 8:31 AM on May 10, 2005


To bad those feminists were such bitches to him. Don't forget there's just as much opressiveness and authoritarianism on the Left as there is on the Right... It's just that they don't have power right now.
posted by delmoi at 8:37 AM on May 10, 2005


delmoi, that's a very good thing to remember. True liberty is hard to get and often harder to stomach, as other people 'abuse' their freedoms.
posted by Malor at 8:51 AM on May 10, 2005


Reproductive Technologies Web is one of my favourite online resources. Thought it was apropo.
posted by carmen at 9:12 AM on May 10, 2005


Corporate sponsorship of discrimination against contraceptive pills is still a problem.
Check your company's health plan.
I bet it will cover Viagra but not birth control pills.
What's up with that?
posted by nofundy at 9:18 AM on May 10, 2005


I bet it will cover Viagra but not birth control pills.
What's up with that?


That question answers itself, dude.
posted by jonmc at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2005


I bet it will cover Viagra but not birth control pills.

This is true with my provider. Covers every dick-hardening pill on the market, but when it comes to birth control, voluntary sterilization or abortion, no dice.

Guess they just want more individuals added to their plans.
posted by sian at 9:39 AM on May 10, 2005


Actually, quite a few states require insurance companies to cover birth control and reproductive health services by law, now. Some say if you cover impotence drugs than you must cover contraception, others flat out require contraception to be covered on any insurance plan with prescription coverage. Some say only if it is an employer-provided plan, others all plans. It's a crapshoot, but work is being done.

I love living in NY. If you have insurance through work, you have birth control coverage. They have to cover OB/GYN services and all FDA-approved birth control, by law.
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2005


3 cheers for Katharine Dexter McCormick!!!

There's a dorm named after her at M.I.T. But I didn't know she had such an influence on the invention of the birth control pill !!
posted by Spencerinc at 10:33 AM on May 10, 2005


Good stuff as always MJ3.
posted by dejah420 at 10:53 AM on May 10, 2005


The pill is a good, but not all good. It is often emphasized to the detriment of other contraceptive technologies, and it certainly does not suit all women. (Every single girl I know who has been on the pill decided against it, mostly because it made them crazy. This is not true for everyone, but it is not so rare.)

In fact, if you or your partner are allergic to nonoxynol-9 and prefer not to be on hormonal contraception, you are left only with condoms, as it is currently impossible to get a diaphragm spermicide that does not contain nonoxynol-9 (in the US). It is also associated with small vaginal tears that make you more susceptible to STDs.

So yay for the pill, but lets not forget those for whom hormonal birth control is not the best option.
posted by dame at 11:08 AM on May 10, 2005


dame: what about a hormone free IUD?
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:13 AM on May 10, 2005


Certainly, it's not good for everyone. No medication suits all. But it's better to help some of the people than none of the people. I love the pill that I'm on. It's helped me relieve all kinds of symptoms and problems totally unrelated to the fact that I don't want a kid right now.
posted by Spencerinc at 11:14 AM on May 10, 2005


Yum, PID and ectopic pregnancy. No, I'd just take a non-nonoxynol spermicide, personally.

And yeah, the pill is good for many people, and that's awesome. It's merely that somehow in the joy of that it has taken on an aura of "birth-control problem solved!" that is inaccurate and can retard the creation of still better options. I think so anyway. So it makes me a little hivey when the pill is presented as a magic bullet.
posted by dame at 11:31 AM on May 10, 2005


Dame, that is a good point. People tend to think "Oh, this solution works for everyone." The pill also causes high blood pressure and while there is a lot of evidence that it decreases one type of cancer (cervical) it increases the chances of getting another (breast).
posted by Spencerinc at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2005


I think since this is a post about, you know, the Pill, that it's going to be celebrated and talked about more so than other contraceptives.

I can think of at least five other female contraceptive options right off the bat, and I hope that other people know about them as well. I'm sure most doctors would explain other options other than the Pill.
posted by agregoli at 11:47 AM on May 10, 2005


What the heck is up with the page title, though? "Setting nice girls free?" And that is supposed to mean....?
posted by agregoli at 11:48 AM on May 10, 2005


Or gee, you know, we could talk about the good and bad aspects of the pill in a post about the pill.

I can think of at least five other female contraceptive options right off the bat, and I hope that other people know about them as well. I'm sure most doctors would explain other options other than the Pill.

Yeah, well when it comes to contraception, I'm not really down with "hoping" as a stragtegy. Nor am I going to pretend that you can count on your doctor. If I recall, there was recently a thread where someone mentioned that upon requesting a diaphragm, she was told that they really prefer the pill for younger girls. The gyno I had before I lost health insurance was mediocre, and the only way you're gonna get anything out of Planned Parenthood is to be incredibly informed on your own. (And I have no problem being informed but I hardly think that's the case for grown women who still think of their own cunts as dirty and scary.)

Look, I know way too many people who resort to fertility awareness because the current birth-control options really don't suit everyone and the hullabaloo around the pill exacerbates the situation, discouraging continued innovation. That sucks.

Spencerinc understood that in two posts. What's your problem?
posted by dame at 12:03 PM on May 10, 2005


I like Margaret Atwood's novel in which the euthanization of the human race is carried out secretly through a pill that combines an upper with viagra and a hangover preventer. Hot sex for days, no hangover.

And then... :P
posted by anthill at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2005


Dame, this is the second time you've been more than hostile towards a post I made. I'm sorry I keep seeming to offend you in some way, but you're really being unnecessarily rude. I don't have a "problem."

I didn't really get your post - you know, this is a thread about the Pill, and how wonderful it was that it came to be and how wonderful it is for millions of women. I was surprised to see your comment complaining about how we weren't talking about other kinds of contraceptives. Maybe you should start a thread talking about them, in order to enlighten the masses?
posted by agregoli at 12:26 PM on May 10, 2005


eh, agregoli, I was thinking of two concepts for possible titles: one path was to emphasize the the freedom from the tyranny of biology, and the other was the idea that women could enjoy sex without the anxiety of pregnancy: we were free from the tyranny of being "good girls" or "nice girls." In retrospect, I see it doesn't work very well. Pithiness is not my strong suit, I'm more of a body copy babe, not a headliner ;-)

dame, I quite agree it is not the only option nor necessarily the right option. If I am not mistaken, pill use peaked in the 80s, and has been somewhat lower since - I think somewhere around the 50% mark in the US, but I don't have time to dig now to verify. Nevertheless, for millions of women, myself included, it was a life-changing and liberating thing to have access to the pill. I am just on the cusp of the have/have not generation - my aunts had so many fewer choices than me or my peers. But there are definite health risks, and there is always the temptation (as you note) to think a pill can solve all problems. Fortunately, a side effect of the widespread adoption of the pill was that it brought the dialogue of contraception out into the open, resulting in a much healthier climate. I think the key word is "choices."
posted by madamjujujive at 12:29 PM on May 10, 2005


Gotcha, madamjujujive - your meaning didn't get across but I see that side of the title comment now. Thanks!
posted by agregoli at 12:32 PM on May 10, 2005


I didn't really get your post - you know, this is a thread about the Pill, and how wonderful it was that it came to be and how wonderful it is for millions of women. I was surprised to see your comment complaining about how we weren't talking about other kinds of contraceptives. Maybe you should start a thread talking about them, in order to enlighten the masses?

See, this is precisely my problem: You don't get it. And you're annoying about it.

Frankly, the comment is relevant because I don't have a great urge to discuss alternative contraception but to point out that the "wonder pill" nostalgia, which is what this thread is about, is actually harming the cause for current contraceptive advances. It undoes what it celebrates. I used some examples to make that point, but the point is about the pill.

Madamjjj: I think the key word is "choices."

Exactly. It's great as a historical event and very personally wonderful if it suits you. But now its hegemony prevents the expansion of the very choices it helped usher in. The manner in which it is presented also tends to separate the women for whom it works from those for whom it does not, encouraging the former not to even recognize or consider the situation of the latter. And that's a shame. So when everyone is saying, "Yay!" it seems a good time to make that argument.

I'm not anti-pill. Just anti–pill nostalgia and hegemony. Or, as I said in the first place, it's a good but not all good.

The post, though, that is good. Forgive me for not taking a second to make a nod to that.
posted by dame at 1:06 PM on May 10, 2005


Unborn Baby Ornament - US Troop Model

Baird took up the fight for abortion rights when working for a drug company in the late 1950s. He heard a woman scream. He ran down the hall to find her covered in blood, a coat hanger in her uterus. She later died in his arms.
Shit like the above link needs his seen put on an ornament to counter their false propaganda posters with the real ugliness. I also request the scenes to be shown during eating periods. As, it also seemed an appropriate time for the pro-lifers to shove their propaganda posters in my sight. Most of these were the faked photos of an early stage fetus looking like a fully formed human which was aborted.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:07 PM on May 10, 2005


But who can forget that dark day when the pill lost to the Springhill Mine disaster?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:12 PM on May 10, 2005


See, this is precisely my problem: You don't get it. And you're annoying about it.

And what I REALLY don't get is why someone who doesn't know me from Adam would want to insult my manner of discussion. Your blood pressure must be sky high. I'm not trying to be annoying, but you seem to be out to offend. Try to relax.
posted by agregoli at 3:04 PM on May 10, 2005


Excellent post, juju. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on May 10, 2005


The First Lady Of Country Music with a timely tribute....
posted by jonmc at 4:08 PM on May 10, 2005


jonmc: love you though i do, i should point out to the greater populace that the lyrics site to which you've linked has some heinous spyware popups. i didn't want to click "yes" to continue, much as i like that tune.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:12 PM on May 10, 2005


but you seem to be out to offend

No, I'm just too lazy to think up ways to be polite to ninnies.
posted by dame at 4:21 PM on May 10, 2005


pxe2000: ah, I was using Mozilla, so I didn't see them.

For the record, Loretta Lynn's thoughts:

You wined me and denied me when I was you girl
Told me if I'd be your wife you'd show me the world
But all I've seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill
I'm tearin' down your brooder house because now I've got the pill
All these years I've stayed at home while you had all your fun
And every years that's gone by another baby's come
There's gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill
You've set this chicken your last time cause now I've got the pill
This old maternity dress I've got is going in the garbage
The clothes I'm wearing from now on won't take up so much yardage
Miniskirts hot pants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I'm making up for all those years since I've got the pill

I'm tired of all your crowing how you and your hens play
While holding a couple in my arms another's on the way
This chicken's done for up her nest and ready to make a deal
And you can't afford to turn it down cause you know I've got the pill
This incubator is overused because you've kept it filled
The feeling good time's easy now since I've got the pill
It's gettin' dark it's roostin' time and that's too good to be real
Oh daddy don't you worry now cause momma's got the pill
Oh daddy don't you worry now cause momma's got the pill
posted by jonmc at 7:57 AM on May 11, 2005


Feministing: We all know that, in many states, your pharmacist can refuse to fill your contraception prescription on "moral grounds." But what if your pharmacist doesn't even keep EC in stock?

A report released today by Missouri NARAL shows pharmacists are avoiding the conscience clause debate by simply not stocking emergency contraception. And it's not only Wal-Mart they're talking about.

The results of NARAL's statewide survey of 920 pharmacies show:
* Almost 70% of pharmacies do not stock EC
* 38% of pharmacies do not stock EC and would not order the product if it is requested by a customer
* 90% of rural pharmacies do not stock EC
* Only 28% of those rural pharmacies reported they would order EC if it is requested by a customer
* Only 9% of hospital/hospital-affiliated pharmacies reported stocking EC.

posted by amberglow at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2005


I like Margaret Atwood's novel in which the euthanization of the human race is carried out secretly through a pill that combines an upper with viagra and a hangover preventer.

Ooh! I need summer reading material. What's the title? (heh)
posted by sian at 12:00 AM on May 13, 2005


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