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USA Today: The pill: 50 years of birth control changed women's lives


Published: 7May2010

The pill was groundbreaking in other ways: Women today have a wide range of effective contraceptive choices, virtually all of them variations on the pill. Concerns about adverse effects linked to the early, high-dose oral contraceptives galvanized feminists and gave rise to the consumer health movement. Americans no longer assume doctors, regulators and drug companies know what's best for them. "It's not that a technology changes everything," says McGill University historian Andrea Tone, author of Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America. "It's how people reacted to the technology." Other forces — political, cultural, religious and medical — shaped how the pill was perceived and used, she says.