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Author Jonathan Eig Talks About The Birth Of The Pill

The Birth of the Pill

"My Pill," an anthem for the birth control pill. From Jonathan Eig, author of "The Birth of the Pill." Song by Steve Brooks. Performed by Jessica Shepherd. Jan. 5, 2015

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Pictured is the cover of the book "The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution" by Jonathan Eig.

Before women could reliably control pregnancies, biology was destiny. But after the birth control pill began being offered in the U.S. as a contraceptive in 1960, women could choose their destiny.

In his new book, "The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution,” former Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Eig writes about how the pill changed society.

Eig, who lives in Chicago, writes about the history of the pill by telling the stories of four people: feminist Margaret Sanger, biologist Katharine McCormick, scientist Gregory Pincus and Catholic Dr. John Rock.

Eig said he decided to research the history of the birth control pill because few people knew about it.

“It just puzzled me until I decided to look into it myself,” Eig told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “It’s still something, in some quarters, we’re still uncomfortable talking about, which is silly.”

He described Sanger, who advocated for the contraceptive for 30years, as the visionary behind the birth control pill.

“Everyone told her it was science fiction,” Eig said. “The doctor’s best advice was: try staying away from your husband.”

It wasn’t until the 1950s when she met Pincus, who Eig described as a maverick, that her dream made headway.

“It occurred to him that hormones controlled pregnancy,” Eig said. “If we gave a woman progesterone, then her body would already think she’s pregnant and she wouldn’t get pregnant.”

Pincus later asked Rock to join him in the clinical trials of the contraceptive. Those efforts were funded by McCormick.

Eig is the featured speaker for the 52nd anniversary dinner for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest on Tuesday evening at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

For more information about the event, go to


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