On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970 by Elizabeth Siegel WatkinsOn the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970 by Elizabeth Siegel Watkins

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

byElizabeth Siegel Watkins

Paperback | July 11, 2001

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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.

Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is an associate professor in the History of Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
Title:On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.55 inPublished:July 11, 2001Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801868211

ISBN - 13:9780801868214

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Table of Contents




Chapter 1: Genesis of the Pill

Chapter 2: Physicians, Patients, and the New Oral Contraceptives

Chapter 3: Sex, Population, and the Pill

Chapter 4: Debating the Safety of the Pill

Chapter 5: Oral Contraceptives and Informed Consent

Chapter 6: Conclusion


Bibliographical Essay


Editorial Reviews

Any study of the development of the birth-control pill will be centrally concerned with the expansion of women's reproductive choices. But, as this book so clearly demonstrates, it involves other questions too. In part, it is about the risks that come with the ingestion of oral contraception. It is about the relationship between women and doctors, between women and their partners and betwen science, medicine and the media. Not least, it is about how women have responded differently to this intervention into their bodies. Underpinned by some excellent archival material, interviews with key individuals and an extensive use of the newspapers, magazines and medical journals of the time, this study is particularly strong in its discussion of concerns over the safety of the Pill... This is not the only area of interest within this valuable book. Anyone concerned with the debate over scientific advance and medical authority will find this a highly stimulating study... For her, the Pill brought the possibility of voluntary pregnancy, and feminist (and other) critics of its medical effects and social repercussions will need to engage carefully with her arguments if this important debate is to be taken to a new level.