by Lara V. Marks
Upon its widespread release some 40 years ago, the contraceptive pill was hailed as a scientific step toward controlling population growth. Marks' historical treatise begins with scientists fleeing fascism in early20th Century Europe and bringing the scientific understanding of oral contraceptives to the United States. Once the pill was ready for testing and marketing, it became international again. Estimates are that 200 million women have taken birth control pills and that 70 million women will take one today. Those numbers make the pill one of the leading pharmaceutical products in the world. Its profound impact on attitudes toward sex and contraception is rivaled only by the ways that the pill has altered the medical profession and the pharmaceutical marketplace. Marks considers, for example, how the pill spawned the idea of taking a drug for something other than an illness and how it challenged the rules for testing new drugs. While many middle-class women in developed countries freely use the pill as a tool for family planning, many women in Third World nations reject it on religious and cultural principles. For many others, the cost remains prohibitive.
Yale U Pr, 2001, 372 p., b&w; plates/illus., hardcover
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