Faith Salie: Happy Birthday to the Pill

birth control, pill
AP / file
According to a new CBS News Poll, . That includes our contributor Faith Salie:

It's Mother's Day, and I won't be receiving any cards or flowers or sweet, sloppy kisses, thanks - in large part - to the pill.

The pill was born 50 years ago today. Is it a paradox to wish Happy Birthday to the birth control pill?

I was on the pill for almost 15 years. Now, I'm a bit of an anomaly, because I was put on the pill not so much for birth control as to replace the estrogen I'd lost due to a touch of anorexia.

As I got older and had a lot more calories and a little more sex, preventing pregnancy was as easy as swallowing that tiny tablet.

We've come a long way not to have a baby. In 1912, a feminist nurse named Margaret Sanger, who blamed her own mother's death on 18 pregnancies, called for a "magic pill" that would allow a woman to (in Sanger's words) "choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."

On May 9th, 1960, that "magic pill" became a radical reality.

I can intellectually grasp how revolutionary the pill was for that generation of women in the same way I can imagine the groundbreaking-ness of abolition or women's suffrage or waterproof mascara.

But by the time I got to college in the '90s, virtually every young woman I knew was on the pill. It was like a rite of passage, along with Doc Martens and Take Back the Night rallies.

It was a daily ritual of responsible womanhood: The neat circle of tiny pink pills for days 1 through 21; the green sugar pills through day 28. Complete the circle; control your cycle. Control your cycle; control your life.

What could be more empowering? Plus it made your boobs bigger. Win-win.

It wasn't always so simple. Some young women had to defy parents, partners, even Popes to get it. It wasn't until 1965 that the Supreme Court officially overturned bans on contraception use by married couples!

I think Margaret Sanger would be pleased that, for the 100 million women who take the pill today, it's just "the pill." But for countless women 50 years ago, it was a miracle pill.

Many of them were our moms, and they raised us to know that being a mother was not an expectation or an obligation but a choice.

It was the pill that truly made us pro-choice, not Roe v Wade.

It may have produced fewer children, but it produced better mothers: fulfilled women who deliberately created families.

I'm no longer on the pill, and now I plan to be a mature, grateful mother.

And that's why there's no better day than Mother's Day to celebrate it . . . as a better pill to swallow.

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