Share “Birth control pill marks 50 years”

Birth control pill marks 50 years

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee approved the use of the birth control pill 50 years ago on May 9, 1960. Proponents and opponents agree that it forever changed families worldwide.

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: May 9, 2010

ank Wilson III, medical director for Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma.

"Unfortunately in Oklahoma (in) this day and time,” he said, "pharmacists are refusing to fill physician prescriptions, such as emergency contraceptives, because it goes against their beliefs.”

Church remains opposed
The Catholic Church has not wavered in its opposition to oral contraceptives through the years, said Cristy Welch, natural family planning coordinator for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s Office of Family Life.

"It is not open to life, and … it can have potential harm,” Welch said in explaining the church’s opposition. "The church’s teaching is that intercourse should be both life-giving and love-giving, and so the pill takes away from that.”

Welch said she has taken notice of several articles written about the 50th anniversary of the pill.

She said over the years, the church has had to battle against prevailing culture, which accepts oral contraceptives as a normal part of life.

"It’s hard because of the way media and medicine have influenced our culture,” she said. "It’s being sold as something that’s beneficial for people’s health.”

She said some people see the church as "very countercultural” when they realize that its stance against the pill hasn’t changed.

One way to combat that reaction is to share the church’s teachings with young people, she said.

Welch visits the two Catholic high schools in Oklahoma City — Bishop McGuinness and Mount St. Mary — each year to talk to students about natural family planning.

Natural family planning is an umbrella term of different methods for a woman to monitor natural biology markers of fertility and use that information to plan to achieve or postpone pregnancy.

Teens targeted
Teens are being targeted by nonreligious leaders, too.

"Our ultimate goal is prevention,” said Keri Parks, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma. "There are still too many unintended pregnancies in our state.”

About 1 in 3 pregnancies in Oklahoma is unintended, Parks said. Oklahoma ranks No. 6 in the nation for teen mothers. The result, she said, can be expensive.

Teen moms average a cost of $1,424 per child each year in social services provided by the state, Parks said. Birth control costs about $300 a year.

"Teens don’t know that it’s always readily available and they have options,” Parks said.

"We encourage parental involvement for all the teens that come to our clinics.”

Barbara Santee didn’t know her options in 1955, and the pill wasn’t available. Santee now advocates for women’s rights and reproductive health.

"I was from a very poor, very abusive family,” she said. "I didn’t want to get buried in poverty. The only way out of that I could see was education. Even after I had my son, I ended up with three master’s (degrees) and a Ph.D. The pill helped on that tremendously.”


Carla Hinton, Religion Editor