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    Birth Control as an Idea {Part I}

    February 1, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    The discussion concerning the history of birth control in the US must begin with the person of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood {originally named the American Birth Control League}. This woman devoted her life to a woman’s right to “choose”. Many of us {ignorant me included, at the onset of my research} tend to assume she was an abortion activist because of the association with Planned Parenthood. Rather, Sanger was consumed with a woman’s ability to plan her family, to avoid unwanted, unplanned pregnancies.

    Pregnancy, both within and without marriage, was viewed as something that restrained a woman. Women’s liberation found its root not only in suffrage, but also controlling reproduction.

    If one is interested in a detailed history of the manufacture and distribution of the hormonal birth control pill, this is a good place to go. Suffice it to say that Planned Parenthood commissioned a couple Ph.D.s to create a reliable form of birth control in 1950.

    Sanger passed away in 1966, at the age of 87, only months after the landmark case Griswold v. Conneticut (1965) legalized the birth control pill for use by married couples. In public discussion of Griswold, most citizens recognize that it established the right to privacy, but they don’t remember that this initial recoginition of a “right to privacy” set the stage for the Roe v. Wade decision, as well as the recent Lawrence v. Texas decision, which legalized sodomy. The Griswold case was the “gateway drug” for abortion and beyond.

    Ideas have consequences. The legalization of birth control in the US required the introduction of what we now call judicial activism. Like dominoes toppling over, the rationalization used for legalizing birth control in the court system led to legalized abortion in less than 10 years, and legalized sodomy a couple decades after that.

    Ideas have consequences. Sanger actually believed that good birth control would make abortion unnecessary because there would be no unwanted babies. However, as we all know, contraception works only most of the time, and so the American Birth Control League evolved into Planned Parenthood, making millions of dollars off the slaughter of the remaining unwanted babies every year.

    Ideas have consequences. Once our culture accepted birth control as an idea, children became a choice to be made, which opened the door for a new view of a child’s place in society, a new view of marriage and procreation, and the opportunity for the eventual acceptance of abortion and {looking to the future} even infanticide.

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  • Reply Brandy February 1, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    Rebecca–As usual, you are so right! I primarily focused on The Pill because it is the most prevalent, has the most famous court cases attached, and is the most easily researched. This is code for “I was being lazy.” =)

    But I’ve been researching in little spurts throughout the day, and it really is an interesting topic! I’m glad you pushed me a bit. =)

    Since the kiddos are making dinner, I’ll have plenty of time to finish up my research in time for an update tomorrow. Haha…

  • Reply rebecca February 1, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Well, you know, since you have nothing better to do (what with those two kids practically old enough to fend for themselves), I thought you could handle the research for me.

    I guess my point is, whatever your other thoughts on the pill are, birth control of all forms share at least one goal (or idea) and so to some extent share some of the same “consequences” (primarily, the place of children in society).

  • Reply Brandy February 1, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    Joe–(haha!) I do think that, whether our generation acknowledges it or not, The Pill is for sure a foundational part of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

  • Reply Brandy February 1, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    Rebecca–This posting was primarily concerning hormonal/chemical birth control, especially the latter half. For instance, the Griswold case (as fas as I am aware) concerned The Pill alone.

    It looks to me like you just ensured that there will be a minimum of three installments on this series! Tonight I will research the other forms, and I’ll try to do it mainly within US history, though I might touch on the world in order to be thorough.

  • Reply Josiah February 1, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks for exposing the link between the Birth Control League and Planned Parenthood. I am increasingly persuaded that people within any non-Christian society must be controlled by something; there is never a power vacuum. Either they will demand control over their own lives via tyrannical claims to “rights,” or a tyrannical leader/gov’t will impose control over them.

    Ironically, the view of “freedom” encouraged by the Griswold and Roe decisions have actually enslaved millions of women. Not physically, of course, but mentally: Their minds can only understand life through the lens of their right to unrestricted freedom. They cannnot readily escape this paradigm to consider issues of conscience and morality. I think “The Pill” and abortion have become the symbols of this freedom for many women.

    I look forward to your future postings.

  • Reply rebecca February 1, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    Just a question to clarify your argument… are you referring to ALL forms of birth control (including other forms of contraception, Natural Family Planning,etc) or just focusing on the impact of the pill form of birth control on our society? And if you are including other forms in your discussion, can you address the history behind those as well?

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