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"The pill" turns 50

Seasonique from DuraMed Pharmaceuticals
Seasonique from DuraMed Pharmaceuticals

Today, May 9, 2010, is the 50th anniversary of the approval of the birth control pill. The pill is probably one of the most important inventions of the last century.

The pill was the dream of Margaret Sanger in 1912. As women were fighting for the right to vote, Sanger was distributing pamphlets trying to educate women about birth control. She got the idea while working in New York; she watched women getting back alley abortions and had too many die in her arms as a result. She felt strongly that women needed better options.

Katherine McCormick, a wealthy woman with a science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, backed Sanger’s idea for the pill. Sanger then convinced Gregory Pincus to develop the pill.

The dream came true on May 9, 1960, when the Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of the first birth control pill. On June 23, 1960, the first birth control pill was released.

The early pill was not as well received as the industry had hoped. There were health issues that arose from the pill. Some women had blood clots caused by the high doses of hormones. Today, the pill has a much lower dose of hormones and actually has been shown to have health benefits. Today’s birth control pills have been shown to decrease the risks of ovarian and uterine cancers.

The pill remains the most popular reversible birth control in the country. Nearly one-third of women who use birth control use the pill. In 2008, nearly $3.5 billion dollars were spent on birth control pills in America.

For 50 years we have seen Margaret Sanger’s dream come true. Women have taken her dream and made it their own. Women have taken control of their fertility, their families, and their health all thanks to Mrs. Sanger’s dream.


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