On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970

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9780801858765: On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970
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"In 1968, a popular writer ranked the pill's importance with the discovery of fire and the developments of tool-making, hunting, agriculture, urbanism, scientific medicine, and nuclear energy. Twenty-five years later, the leading British weekly, the Economist, listed the pill as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The image of the oral contraceptive as revolutionary persists in popular culture, yet the nature of the changes it supposedly brought about has not been fully investigated. After more than thirty-five years on the market, the role of the pill is due for a thorough examination." -- from the Introduction

In this fresh look at the pill's cultural and medical history, Elizabeth Siegel Watkins re-examines the scientific and ideological forces that led to its development, the part women played in debates over its application, and the role of the media, medical profession, and pharmaceutical industry in deciding issues of its safety and meaning. Her study helps us not only to understand the contraceptive revolution as such but also to appreciate the misinterpretations that surround it.

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From the Publisher:

"This is an exemplary study of how the nation which first had access to oral contraceptives first came to terms with their advantages, and their drawbacks."—Jon Turney, Times Literary Supplement

"In every carefully organized, lucidly written chapter Watkins provides surprising corrections to conventional thinking about the new birth control method . . . One especially noteworthy theme is the book's exploration of the politics of the pill, including Planned Parenthood [Federation] of America's concerted efforts to rebut critics, federal officials' dramatically shifting positions from the 1950s to the 1970s on birth control, population control and family planning, and pill-induced tensions among feminists."—Janet Farrell Brodie, Journal of American History

About the Author:

Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is an associate professor in the History of Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

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9780801868214: On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970

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ISBN 10:  0801868211 ISBN 13:  9780801868214
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001
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