Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Pill - a Timeline

A Timeline of contraception, the Pill and related events:

  • 1839, Charles Goodyear "vulcanizes" rubber and uses the process to make condoms and "womb veils" (diaphragms)
  • 1873, Congress passes the Comstock Law, an anti-obscenity act aimed at contraceptive devices and information, outlaw dissemination of them by the postal service or inter-state commerce
  • 1879, Maggie Louise Higgins (later known as Margaret Sanger) is born
  • 1906, The FDA is established to protect consumers from medical quackery
  • 1914, Margaret Sanger coins the term, "birth control"
  • 1916, Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in the country
  • 1920, 19th amendment is ratified, given women the vote
  • 1921, Sanger establishes the American Birth Control League, later to be known as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • 1930, The Lambeth Conference makes the Anglican communion the first Protestant church to approve the use of birth control
  • 1930, Pope Pius XI issues Casti Canubi, an encyclical declaring birth control to be a sin
  • 1936, Sanger orchestrates a legal battle over a shipment of Japanese diaphragms, which leads to the AMA officially recognizing birth control as part of a doctor's medical practice
  • 1941, Chemistry professor Russell Marker synthesizes progesterone from Mexican wild yams which makes progesterone production affordable and will become the basis for hormonal birth control.
  • 1951, the Planned Parenthood Federation of American now runs 200 birth control clinics but Sanger is still seeking her "magic pill".
  • 1956, the first large-scale clinical trials of the birth control pill start in Puerto Rico. The medical doctors in charge of the trial report 100% prevention of pregnancy but too many side effects for the pill to be generally accepted. The clinical trials are pushed forward anyway, despite the deaths of three women taking the pills.
  • May 1960, Enovid becomes the first birth control pill to receive FDA approval
  • 1965, the ACOG redefines conception and the beginning of pregnancy in a "terminology bulletin" without scientific discussion or consensus. The new definition defines fertilization as the union of egg and sperm while "conception" now refers to the implantation of the fertilized ovum.
  • 1965, SCOTUS decision in Griswold v. Connecticut finds a "right to privacy" in the US Constitution, hidden among the "penumbras" and "emanations" of the Bill of Rights. The law which was struck down prohibited the sale and use of contraceptives for married couples
  • 1968, Pope Paul VI issues the encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life)
  • 1972, Eisenstadt v. Baird struck down a law preventing the sale of contraceptives to unmarried individuals
  • 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, twin decisions by SCOTUS found that the right to abortion was a fundamental right for a woman's "life and future"
  • 1992, FDA approves Dep-Provera, a hormone injection use to prevent pregnancy
  • 2000, FDA approves RU-486 (mifepristone) which, when taken in conjunction with prostaglandin, induces an abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy
  • 2001, Ortho-Evra, the first birth control patch, is released
  • 2006, FDA approves over-the-counter sales of Plan B, the "morning after pill" which prevents a newly conceived embryo from attaching to the uterine lining. It is essentially a large dose of birth control pills taken at once

1 comment:

Luci said...

I did some primary-source reading a few years back on concoctions aimed at purging the uterus and expelling a baby (after one or two missed periods) in 13th and 14th century France. It was amazing to read how many options a woman had. Of course, many of these items simply did nothing - but others were quite poisonous.

Of course, rather than recognize the inherent evil in such acts, some authors now claim that they're evidence of just how bad the patriarchy really was. Providing medicines to induce abortion (regardless of the harm to the mother!) was, of course, a "feminist" act - sigh.

The years may pass, but the battles remain the same.