Modern birth control pills were approved by the FDA in the 1960s. This was heralded
as a women’s revolution. No longer were they required to use sponges, diaphragms or condoms.
Birth control pills gave women the right to be in charge of their own conception or lack thereof.
This technological advance helped spur the sexual revolution of the late 1960s. However,
women are still required to see their doctor on a regular basis for continued prescriptions. Since
the safety of oral contraceptives has been touted and well established, why then is it not sold over
For centuries women have tried many means to prevent pregnancy. As far back as the
Ancient Egyptians women have use herbs, improvised diaphragms, withdrawal methods, and
abstinence to prevent or delay pregnancy. As time passed, many methods were used by various
civilizations. Some were effective such as certain herbs or condoms. Others were toxic such as
lead and mercury. Still others were more based in superstition such as wearing amulets made of
animal parts, these were of course very ineffective. Breastfeeding was found to delay pregnancy,
but due to rampant malnutrition, this caused many maternal and infant deaths.
Birth Control Pills
In the 1950’s, the search was on for a reliable oral contraceptive. Research began based
on herbal folk remedies used by Aztec women. It was found that some of herbs they were using
contained a form of progestin. Researchers were able to synthesize this hormone. Margaret
Sanger, one of the pioneers of modern birth control, founded Planned Parenthood which was an
organization to teach and distribute contraceptives. She found donors to contribute to her cause
and to the cause of making a birth control pill. Her investors funneled the money for clinical
Over the counter Birth Control Pills 3
trials. In 1960, the first birth control pill was released on the market.
The release of the first birth control pill was a major step forward for women. No longer
were they made to use ineffective birth control methods or rely on their partner to either
withdraw or use a condom. For the first time, women were placed in charge of their own
reproduction. This caused a Sexual Revolution in the United States. Women were able to
control this natural body process safely and discreetly. It was easily stopped when pregnancy
was desired. The introduction of the birth control pill allowed family sizes to decrease,
pregnancy spacing to increase and maternal/infant death rates to decline.
Pregnancy prevention has long been a point of contention by religious groups who
believe that contraception is ungodly. There are to this day doctors, hospitals and pharmacies
that refuse to discuss or dispense contraceptives. This can create a hardship for women in search
of them. Another large barrier to contraceptive access is cost. Women are required to see a
physician to obtain a prescription then pay for the...