It changed from nice girls don’t do it to...well, you know what, nice girls are questioning a lot of things about what nice girls do and don’t do. And that was a huge awakening. I really felt as though I could have it all. You know, I could be a sexual being, I could be a nice girl. I could be a girl with a future.
You began to expect something that would be one hundred percent reliable. And what that meant was really a change toward what people in the business call a contraceptive mentality. A mentality that it is absolutely to be expected that people plan their reproductive lives.
Women became lawyers because law firms no longer had to worry that the woman was going to get pregnant in the middle of a big case. Women became doctors because they could space their children so that they had time to do the internships and the residencies. Women went to work.
When women started doing this, it was just like: “Wow.” It was truly a wow. How do they have enough courage? And they don’t seem to be concerned whether they have a guy or not. They don’t seem to be concerned whether they have an MRS degree or not. And it was...It was revolutionary to me. Me with the five children.
But for all the enthusiasm sweeping the country, one group viewed the Pill with great suspicion.
At that time there were concerns in the black community that family planning, especially family planning clinics dominated by whites, were a form of racial genocide. In fact sterilization abuse was so rampant in the South that blacks called ita “Mississippi appendectomy.” And so it was commonly known that black women were being pressured into sterilization or even sterilized without their knowledge. And when the Pill came out this history meant that black people had to see it as a possible means of control.
One African American newspaper asked, “Why couldn’t blacks get basic health care like a free aspirin, but can get a truck load of birth control pills for free?
Militant Black Power groups declared birth control the equivalent of “Black Genocide” and implored Black women to throw away their pills.
Black women did respond by saying that they understood the reasons for their concerns, but that black women had to make these decisions for themselves. And in the end, black women decided to use the pill, uh, in equal numbers as whites.
Of Human Life...
In the autumn of 1966, Margaret Sanger died at the age of 87. She had lived long enough to see her dream fulfilled, and her despised Comstock laws overturned. Her scientist, Gregory Pincus, died a year later from over-exposure to toxic chemicals in the lab. Her angel, Katharine McCormick, would die next at 92. Only her Catholic doctor, John Rock, would live to see the Pill’s full impact on American society.
Trailer of Prudence & the Pill