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The Sexual Revolution: Birth Control Essay

1413 words - 6 pages

THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: EFFECTS OF THE PILL

Candice Huntsman
Contemporary America and the World
Professor Burkholder
June 16, 2011

Until the sexual revolution of the 1960's, women were the victims of a strict double standard; single men had freedom to be promiscuous but women did not. This double standard revolved around the risk of pregnancy for women that men obviously did not have concern for. One of the main events that triggered the revolution that changed women's sexual freedom was an oral contraceptive, also known as "the pill". This new effective form of birth control changed many major aspects of society including women's freedom, social morality, and informed consent on ...view middle of the document...

While many people found comfort in this freedom for couples, they also had concern for the single women's use of the pill.
Sexual Morality Concerns
The pill solved problems for married and single women who wanted to be intimate without the risk of children. Many people worried for the future of social morality. If there were no consequences or signs of promiscuity, what would stop single women from exploring their options? When John Rock and Gregory Pincus released the pill, "prescriptions were reserved for married women only" (5). The drug was intended to give married women freedom to control the number of children born. Many people argued that the pill would cause promiscuity in single women but Rock and Pincus had clinical research on studies that showed "unmarried women were having sex prior to" the release of the pill. (6)
Health Hazards
Many women and physicians discovered many serious negative side effects such as higher risk for breast cancer, uterine cancer, and smokers were at a higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. (7) The women who experienced these side effects or learned of the high risks were furious because no doctor warned them of the health hazards. There were so many complaints and research that showed the hazards of the pill that the issue gained national attention. In 1970, the State Senate held hearings to discuss the risks. After the hearings of male majority, the women who had taken the pill formed a feminist group in pursuit of justice. The pill's hormone levels were eventually "lowered to a fraction of the original doses" so that hazard level of the side effects would decrease. (8) Other brands of the pill offered higher and lower doses of hormones, giving women more options.
Informed Consent
The hearings that discussed the hazards of the pill received much attention from the media and many reports of the problems caused by the pill were all over major newspapers. Many women blamed their doctors for failing to share all the information on the pill they were prescribed. But many investigations and press conferences involving the relationship between doctors and patients revealed that doctors did not even have all the information on the pill. (9) Never before did the industry provide informed consent on any medication. The main responsibility of information release was on the pharmaceutical companies. While these companies did inform doctors of the risks, they did not bring attention to the severity of the problems that could be caused. So when doctors relayed the risk information to patients, they often failed to mention heart attacks and stokes because they did not think it applied to young women who wanted the prescription. Doctors did not want to “unduly alarm women” because they might overreact. (10)
Also, during this time period people were accustomed to trusting their doctors and they were not used to questioning their authority. Other studies on patient and physician...

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