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The myth of the pill

April 25th, 2006     by Nicole Cohen     Comments

CBC Radios The Current ran a great show on contraception this morning. It discussed the birth control pill, which is often credited with liberating women sexually and socially transforming society. But the show went further than many mainstream discussions of the pill and revealed some of the myths of the pill, including the racist underpinnings of the its development and the ways in which contraception is marked along racial, class and (more obviously) gender lines. The birth control pill has a shady past. For example, Margaret Sanger, the American woman credited with leading the US movement for birth control, was mostly interested in developing a pill for population-control reasons. She was a supporter of the eugenics movement and believed the pill would be effective in preventing poor women of colour from reproducing. The Current mentioned briefly that the pill was first tested by American researchers in Puerto Rico, but fails to fully explore some of the racist reasons why the pill was tested on Puerto Rican women, and doesnt mention that drugs developed by big pharmaceutical companies are still tested in third world countries, often without informing people of the potential side effects. The show covered a lot of other interesting pill-related issues. Listen to it here.

Tags: body politics

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