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tv   After Words  CSPAN  December 7, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm EST

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debate between interventionist and isolationists before america's entry into world war ii. .. this program is about one hour. >> host: i'm here today with jonathan eig.
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this is such a wonderful book, "the birth of the pill." i learned so much. it was so exciting. you take the story that is, a lot of it is about medical merchandising, and you make it incredibly exciting. and i'm curious to know, your previous books were about baseball and al capone. what made you choose the subject? >> guest: it's funny because i really have not had it on my radar at all. it less than 10, 12 years ago i heard a rabbi give a sermon about the importance of thinking of itself as a port with god and been able to change the world. not just to improve yourself, not just to be kinder but we have a responsibility of how we can transform our existence. he said as an example the birth control pill. think about how that must have set out to create one of the most important inventions of all time. something that was -- would
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completely fundamental change marriage, reproduction. he never said who invented the birth control pill or how we got it and i became curious. it struck me as audit that anybody would have on their agenda in the 1950s a pill for the sexual liberation of women, something that would free women to control their first to leave when men were condoning all the drug companies. that's what the idea came from. i became curious. i found this incredible story of these outsiders, underdogs who had no enfranchisement, no government support, no university support setting it to do something better with album was impossible. >> host: can you sketch out what life was like before the build? >> guest: i think people today, survey i took it for granted, i think many people took it for granted you for the 1960s when the pill became commonly used the options for contraception were limited. abortion and abstinence really your two best bets.
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abortion was on say. abstinence was easier said than done. you have some options that were able for women who went to their doctors what women had through them to get access to even those ineffective and inaccessible forms of contraception. average family size was 3.7 women in the 1950s. many women had eight, nine children. women who'd equaled motherhood. a woman's purpose was to be a vessel and options were limited. he didn't see opportunities women had to go to college or graduate school to start careers. it was a very different world. even things like as you point out in your book so well, marital rape was not illegal. marital rape was not grounds for divorce. this is really, society was so different in the way women, the opportunity to represent women and their ability to control their own bodies. the pill was one factor in turning that around but it was
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an important factor. >> host: until the '30s come to submitting information about birth control was illegal. >> guest: that's right. >> host: so even those methods them the condom in the diaphragm, were very hard to come by. people did know about them. you talk in your book about how women would follow margaret sanger and say tell us the secret. what's the secret? >> guest: that there must be some magical solution of the ocean you. to collect are prevented from getting that information because the government would arrest people even who -- she was arrested and booked for putting things in the mail. it wasn't until the '30s. they weren't always in force but they remained on the books until the '60s host back in connecticut, it was until 1965 that struck down a law that said
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birth control, the sale and use of birth control even by married couples was illegal. >> guest: and in massachusetts as well until the late '60s and that's where they were doing this research on the birth control pill. even disseminating information about it is illegal. >> host: you structure the book in an interesting way as the story of four people coming together to create the pill. to to just walk us through who those people were and what their role in the department of the pill was? >> guest: what i loved about the story was it's a human drama. they are all rebels, where there doing something incredibly risky. and without any one of them it all falls apart. the first is margaret sanger we mention she's been saying since the 1920s that ought to be a miracle tablet, bertram, a miracle tablet to allow women to turn off enough to reproductive
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system. she's specific about what they should into the it has to be something women control, keep in the purses, that men don't miss this window they're taking it and when they're done taking a week and pregnant again. scientists tell it's folly. it will never happen. the science isn't there and it's illegal anyway. what drug company will manufacture such a thing? what university will support such research? she keeps asking for years and years, for decades. every scientist she meets is interested in this area. what can we do? finally in 1950 she meets a guy named gregory pincus, one of the world's leading experts. he's been fired from harvard because he's too radical and because he's jewish at the time of great anti-semitism in the 1930s he was experimenting with in vitro fertilization. women would've far more flexibly than men and how they got pregnant to me might not be necessary at all, he said, and that scared people tremendously.
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he couldn't find work anywhere so is working out of a garage, starts his own scientific foundation going door-to-door asking people for donations. when sanger meets him he says if you have the money i can make a birth control pill. she's flabbergasted and how is that possible? it's very simple in his mind that the woman already has a contraceptive in the body. when she's pregnant she can get pregnant again. -- she can't get pregnant again. she says great, what would it take? a couple thousand dollars. >> host: pretty easy. >> guest: trannine goes out and finds an ally, the third in the quartet and she agrees to fund the whole project. she is a wealthy heiress whose husband left her hundreds of millions of dollars when he died. she says whatever it takes. she will build laboratories, show by the animals the need for
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testing. she will write blank checks are pincus and whatever else he might need. pinkas does need one more thing though. he needs a doctor knows how to treat women because he's a lab guy. he finds john ross, one of the most respected fertility experts in the country and gets them to come along and agrees to work with him. now you have somebody brings respectability to this, someone who is catholic and is willing to challenge the church to say no, sex is good for marriage. it shouldn't just be for reproduction, and these four people really on their own with of course some others, this core group of four people set out to do something everybody tells them is impossible host but they were so fascinated i love it that katherine mccormick imported diaphragms from europe by having them sewn into dresses because it was illegal to bring them in. she was very creative person
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with a very a track to a tragic life because her husband was schizophrenic and insane. she spent her life taking care of him and seeing that he was taken to. it wasn't until he died when she was in her \70{l1}s{l0}\'70{l1}s{l0} that she was able really to embark on this reproductive adventure. the two women in the story are both in their 70s, and applying such a major role. and i actually wonder if you kind of stanc scan to them a lie bit in favor of pincus and rock to use them a little more time on because that was kind of the last decade of margaret sanger's career. that by the end of this, the '50s, she was beginning to show senile dementia.
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but she'd been such an amazing force in the 20th century. everyone said she's one of the most important people in the 20th century. i wonder just, they did so to be allowed to -- >> guest: ago had. >> host: you describe her, she was an old woman who loves sex, but actually she was a major thinker and theoretician of women's liberation in the 20th century. alan tressler said she's up there with murray wollstonecraft and others and really the rising the independence of women, the women are not here to reproduce children do not here to serve men and be subsumed in the man's identity as was pretty much
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universal, and still occurs. and she was a very serious person. in fact, the pleasure of sex which is part of the. >> guest: i agree with you completed. i agree with tressler. per book is terrific. but sanger sees that the pill can be this tool that opens up all of the possibilities. it's not just bring women to have more sex but having to become equals within. she believes this is something that if they get so, if the genie gets out of the bottle it will change everything, and she's right. her vision is correct. from a storytelling standpoint the only reason i think pink is and rock in depth into spotlight at times is because once she opens the door and when she gets working on it these are the guys were doing the work. so to understand the process about to go from sanger's brilliant idea to approval by the government at a time of birth control is illegal, you have to see these guys who are
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testing the pill and women who in many ways are their lab rats. you have to see the process by which they get drug company to agree to help make this. sanger is pushing and pushing, and mccormick is pushing sometimes from all stages. she's a graduate from mit and she's in the lab keeping an eye on these men making sure that they don't in any way take this process over and turn into a drug for men. but it's really i think from a storytelling standpoint once sanger hands this idea off, pincus and rock are the ones who carried the ball to the goal and. >> host: you make it so exciting. you describe pincus as yet the iq of an einstein and the nerds of a card shark. and a mighty other things he was thinking of inventing was that your for baldness. it's sort of like i just want to be doing some science to give it is at this it will be that. rock was also thoughtful because he started out as a very
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conservative catholic. in fact, you say he confessed so many sins to his priest when he was a teenager that the priest final said, you don't have to be so scrupulous. stop bothering me. every time you kisse kiss the gr think about kissing a girl. he was extremely conservative and saw sex as being primarily, if not entirely, for reproduction but that was before you had any -- but he changes. talk about that. >> guest: what fascinated me about rock was the ghost work as a doctor and chooses gynecology as a specialty. he becomes exposed to when and where the most catholic men would not. he becomes exposed to fertility issues in a way that most men would not. he has great empathy for these women. poor women are coming into his clinic with her eighth and ninth children and banking with them, what we do to stop this? the only option is a hysterectomy which he is
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reluctant to do. only in severe cases where there's a medical emergency. he has such great empathy for these women that i think it changes is to be. he also begins to see that sex is something that should be part of a marriage, that it brings couples closer together. maybe that's from his own experience from his family. maybe it's him talking to these women but as a result of that he begins to question -- he remains a faithful classic but he questioned whether it's not the churches teachings in this one area is wrong. instead of wrestling with the inwardly, he decides to see what he can do about it. it's very unusual and makes him a real hero. it goes and beats the vatican tries to convince them they should embrace the birth control pill before it is a proved. >> host: he had an idea the with the birth control work made it sort of like the rhythm method, that the pope had approved of in 1930.
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back and opened the door a little bit to the idea that there was a workaround, but it didn't work out, david? >> guest: it came close and it was an interesting philosophical argument. >> host: tell us about that. how did he see the pill and the rhythm method being similar? >> guest: he tried to argue that there was a modern version of improving on the rhythm method. it allowed you to regulate your cycle and you knew when it was safe to have sex, which was pretty much all the time. but in presenting data for the church, which is, all of this hormonal stuff is new to them, new to everybody. we are learning how hormones control the bodies and how artificial hormones even in the form of a pill can change the bodies function. he argues to the vatican they should think about this as an improvement on the rhythm method because it's similar in philosophy at least. a woman is able to know her safe period and you should be able to
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sex for pleasure. the pope appoints a committee of the committee votes to endorse this idea but the pope said no. it didn't go over. >> host: right. there was tremendous opposition to contraception on the part of the church that is, well, they are still doing it, but not as intensely. i have the quote from archbishop hays of new york and i believe 1930. he said contraception is worse than abortion because it's true abortion destroys a life, but contraception plays with the gods plan to create a life and that is satanic. it's very hard to wrap your mind around that. because now even many people who are opposed to legal abortion was a okay, birth control. not the church and not the real diehards, not the antichoice organizations. they can to oppose contraception, too.
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it's interesting to go back and see how strong the opposition was. and also the sense that you give, a lot of people thinking, okay, birth control pill, but we already have condoms to why do we need a birth control? what good does that do? that's kind of amazing. >> guest: and sanger always said the key word is control. now it gives women control. up to the point you to save the condit is critical women have no control over that. that was the big difference over. has forced the church goes, it would've been interesting if the church had approved birth good for pill and try to hold the line more on abortion. mike bibby difference in terms of how much the flock had stayed with them on these issues. what happens is most women begin to follow john rock. i can have is one area i can't thought that it just to observe or agree with and rock turned out to been sort of the advanced
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troops. women start following his approach and living the church behind on this issue. >> host: and men. so is this kind of the beginning of the people who don't like this golf cafeteria catholicism, right? will you take what you want. i got a letter from someone who said, well, i'm a catholic and so i oppose abortion. so i decided i had used birth control very faithfully. i'm thinking wait a minute here. you're missing something. did you have any idea going into this about the very strong political feelings that are attached to the bill even did a? >> guest: sure. you can't miss it if you read the newspapers and watch the news. that was a big incentive in wanting to tell the story because i thought it would be great for people to understand better how we got here today and what it looked like before we had these options.
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we are still fighting over these are things that sanger thought would be done with. she thought once the bill got out there that a change the will, that gave women more opportunities, that amid women healthier and it reduced abortion. she thought the argument would be over. and the fact that it is not over tells you how strongly people feel about this issue. i don't think it's fair to keep fighting over the issues if you don't understand where we have come from. >> host: what do you think is the thing that bothers most people about -- most people are bothered about some contraception, what do you think is the reason traffic i would like to hear your opinion but i think it's deeply, deeply rooted in sexism to be honest. i think we are very uncomfortable with women approaching sex the same way men do. it's okay from and have sex for pleasure but not women. if you look deep at the root of what birth control is the controversial it's hard to avoid that. just builds in thousands of your
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old bias post that i agree with you completely and there's this idea of women as the idea of the gatekeepers of sex, that they are responsible for restraining and edit they can't restrain men, too bad. but that if women can have sex whenever they want, like men have sex whenever they want, then all hell breaks loose. everything falls apart. and we see that playing out now and, well, and the whole abstinence education thing. like oh oh, my god, if a teenagr have sex, or girls have sex, it's really terrible for most of the talk is about the girls and how they are not virgins -- >> guest: double standards. all the talk is about girls and women control the access to sex. i'm amused by the viagra ads which are nonstop when watching
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football. i tried to imagine that if there were ads for birth control for women to look like viagra ads for men, people would go crazy. there would be riots in the streets but you can't talk of sex that way when it's women and old bull for men it took a. >> host: maybe you can answer the question since you've seen someone as. what is the story of those two people in the separate bathtubs? what do they do? >> guest: you want to get into the same bathtub, that's the feed. you can't -- i don't know. >> host: i just assume they were in the two jobs because they already have sex. >> guest: i think the message is if you want to get into the of the tub you've got to take viagra. >> host: i'm sure you're right but that isn't clear. >> guest: those ads are aimed at me, not you. >> host: let's see.
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the ethics of extreme edition, let's talk about that, how the pill was perfected quote-unquote and brought to the market. i was very interested in how different the ethics of experimentation and testing drugs on women or on anybody was in the 1950 goes really like the free for all. >> guest: we talk about what they did to test the pill. it sounds crazy, sounds like you could never get away with today and that's true but they were fairly well within the standards of their day. i mentioned they have the problem, how do you test something that is illegal? they begin by testing on women who are seeking treatment for infertility. some of dr. john rock stations were can't get pregnant and they said pincus, can we see what effect it has? that was a little sneaky that would hold this is something to
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help them get pregnant when effective something they strongly believed would prevent them from getting pregnant. him that he went and tested in insane sons and they went down to the slums of puerto rico and that's what about the hundreds of women who are able to sign-up. but the ethics were definitely questionable at times. >> host: it was interesting the puerto rico passages because the first thing they tried to do was kind of what you really make, female medical students take the pill but if they did they would get bad grades in school. so that was really terrible. but then they seem to have hit on hey, women really want birth control and women are following them around in the streets saying that me have this thing. i had a million children. my husband won't use a condom. my husband thinks it's fine but i have many children, whatever.
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and they were using sterilization a lot. women were begging for sterilization. we remember the history, that history most as the history of forced sterilization and with a big racist component and the same with testing the pill in puerto rico and less successful in haiti. but there was this other side of the tremendous demand. >> guest: it's complicated because women were offered free sterilization after every childbirth in puerto rico to the workforce but they were offered it at the eugenics as i was been for most of those sterilizations to the average family can average woman had seven children in puerto rico in 1950. when thy heard there was this bill available, whether they knew it was excremental product or not didn't matter. they begin begging for, clamoring for, lying upon the click. on sundays when the preachers would say we for those new contraceptive. a number the church does not
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allow the aligns with the longer the next day because it was like advertising. ther was demand and that's the thing. when they tried to force on the scene of nursing students, they wouldn't go for because the side effects were so severe. are willing to accept bad grades because they couldn't put up with the terrible side effects. women with seven, h. were willing to put up with more side effects than the nurses were. >> host: seven rh is a pretty big side effect. so when the pill was first marketed, it wasn't marketed -- it was marketed as menstrual regulation again utah code about that, though process of the review for this is really what it's all about is birth control? >> want to thank solid but this tour is these are guerrilla warfare's. they're doing things in ways
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that are set of dishes because there's nobody backing, no government, no university supporting them. they finally see this demand. the women perrigo sure there's demand for. pincus and sanger are getting hundreds of letters from women saying i heard this research going on for birth control pill. when can i get a? they see their sentiment and they're able to take it to a drug company. they say look executives, to the ceo and owner of the company, women are clamoring for this. maybe should take a chance on a. he agrees to go to the idea and applied for permission to license this drug and get it approved but they said were not going to call it a birth control. will called a regulator of the cycle, menstrual cycle. and apply to the fda they show them all the stage like a really does regulate the menstrual cycle and the fda says it seems
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record financial cycle and the approval. the balkans with 11 as a warning that says will prevent pregnancy. , prevents pregnancy. this becomes more advertising of the pill and women are going to the doctors say that they need is because they have the rigor cycles what effect they need it because they want to not have a child. doctors realize what doesn't begin to describe it off-label as well. now you have a groundswell building and women are finding this tool even before it's really labeled a to what they're supposed to have. that makes a huge difference. >> host: it was a couple of years later that finally they got permission to put, to marketed as a birth control pill officially. >> guest: even then they did not file a new drug application. they file an extension to remove the pill you prescribe them you prefer recognition of the cycle? we would like to add is to it also prevents pregnancy.
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biden hundreds of thousands of them were taking a. the fda had no reason to not approve it. >> host: you talk a little bit about the change compare and contrast which was a sleeping medication that was supposed to prevent morning sickness that was widely, widely used in europe and caused devastating birth to fax. it wasn't marketed here because we had stricter rules. but what was the relation of the terrible, terrible scandal to develop an of the marketing of the pill in its approval. >> guest: thalidomide was starting to distribute in the united states by simple to doctors were giving out samples when the fda notice there were problems that they've been born with deformities. at the same time the pill was in the approval process and i think
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thalidomide province have been discovered a year earlier a popular have stopped development of birth control pill because we think about it, the pill was like nothing ever before. this was a pill and we were going to take every day. it was altering their hormones and it was for healthy young women. it was a teacher a disease or fix an ailment. this was something that would allow women to control their lives. but the standards for approval would've been much, much higher. it could only be tested on 132 women who are taking the pill for six month or more when it was approved by the fda. it never would've gotten through after the thalidomide problems became apparent. >> host: there are young women now who are rejecting the pill. feminist women, women who believe in equality. and they find, why should you take this hormone when you can use, for example, the modern
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version of the rhythm method, which is called natural family planning, which i say get all the equipment you need and you have to look at your cervical mucus every day a ticket to which all the time to it doesn't seem so natural. but they would rather do that than take what they consider to be risks and side effects. what do you think about that? that seems amazing to me that somebody years after the pill has just totally inserted itself into american life in such big way it's hard to find women who haven't taken it. that there's this reaction against it just back i think it's natural considering these are hormones that we're taking with and it's a woman's body that is affected by. there's a long, long study that has shown it safe, good for you and women were on the pill have fewer kinds of cancer, fewer long-term health. they live longer and women who
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are not on the pill. it's an interesting dilemma but i understand the your messing around with someone for months, it's a very personal issue. >> host: this because to me as a question. here we have this medication that it turns out isn't just for quote lifestyle reasons. it also has benefits, like a vitamin. it prevents cancer, prevent heart attacks. you live longer. it decreases your risk of death in childbirth and all kinds of disasters things that can go wrong in the pregnancy and childbirth. so why can't it be smuggled into acceptabiacceptabi lity with the catholic church? this is a medication, the primary effect of which is to make you more healthy, which is a secondary benefit but that, of course, is not why you're doing it come of preventing pregnancy? >> guest: a fascinating argument. if john rock had taken that to the church in 1950s sf try to
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compare it to the rhythm method but since we have this new women's health pill that come in addition to all of these other benefits, allows them to decide when they're ready to get pregnant or not. when they are ready to start the big catholic families which is what the church wanted. they wanted cash but then it might of been a different argument. it's all about how you bring these things. they took their best shot at framing it. they focus o focus on the issuee day, which for population control and not sexy, not in women's health. they thought the best issue for them in terms of propaganda, in terms of gaining public support was population control. the pill hasn't had the effect on that over the decades that they thought it would. but it was an important movement at the time. it's easy now 60 years later to say, well, they should've recognized this and health benefits. they couldn't have known it because no one had taken a long enough post that, in fact, i think most people don't know that now. we hear so much more about possible dangers of the pill and
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side effects, some of which seem to be, you suggest at one point, what's the word i want? psychosomatic. >> guest: that's right. but i will say in defense of pincus and sanger and rock, the biggest argued they made was always side effects women are suffering, all the potential danger when they learn about down the road, they are minuscule compared to the number of women dying in childbirth, from unplanned pregnancies, the number of children being born into poverty. if we can reduce those in the overall health benefits are going to overwhelm any possible side effects of the drug. that was one of the important organs they made when they were first bringing this on. >> host: it's amazing that didn't carry a lot more weight. for example, with religious objections.
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you are saving women from death in childbirth. >> guest: it is disappointing that even now that doesn't carry more weight because issued carry a lot more weight today. >> host: ip to show i think people don't take any more the death in childbirth is a thing. they are wrong, 800 women a year in the united states, record of maternal mortality is not that good. >> guest: the pill dramatically reduced those cases of maternal and infant mortality overnight. you start to see all these changes occur and for women's health and for opportunities really within just a couple of years of the pill's approval in 1960. no question about it. it's something we take for granted now. >> host: let's talk a little bit about the social changes that the pill helped bring about. just talk about that. how did women's lives of change traffic almost overnight you start to see women pushing back the age government and the age
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which they have the first children to a scene going to college and staying longer. instead of going for a year and two and becoming secretaries they stay for four years and get bachelor degrees. by mid '60s the pill is on the cover of "time" magazine. women having sex on campus. it's getting a little crazy out there but they also note that there are these huge fundamental changes that the age of marriage is starting to inch up. women are waiting longer to have children. people noticed it almost instantly, and it's very rare to see that kind of cultural change happening so quickly. >> host: when you describe women's lives before the pill, how you get married and maybe nine months later, maybe 11 months later you start having children. that's really kind of the end of other possibilities for you. for sample, pincus' wife is a character in the book and i think her life seemed so sad to me. maybe it didn't do her, i don't
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know testing i think it did from talking to her children. she was deeply frustrated. as brilliant as her husband and she knows it and she surrounded by all these really good people. she's hosting talk to parties for all the scientists, nobel laureates are dropping by the house and she can hang with any of them in conversation that does nothing for her to do except bake casseroles and wait for her husband to come home from work. she's terribly care be frustrated. there were millions of women in that situation all over the country, all over the world because the opportunities just were not there because as soon as they get married they got pregnant. if you did get pregnant right after you get married people wonder what was wrong with you. that was the cultural norm. >> host: also about interesting how fertility, always in fertility always attributed to the women. john rock was some who thought maybe men have something to do with this. he would test seaman. he was one of the few people who
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had this thought so deeply ingrained with the idea that everything about reproduction is all about the women. >> guest: and women's lives were defined by their pregnancy or the lack thereof. it, god forbid, ma they got pregnant before they were married they were considered outcasts from society. if they didn't get married and they did want to have children because they wanted to start a career, they were considered freaks. the pill about a lot more range of opportunity, a lot more choices for women. >> host: what about some of the social changes? talk about that. >> guest: there's the jobs and career opportunities. that's one kind of social change and then you start to see this getting into the sexual revolution. more casual sex, more promiscuity, divorce rates begin to rise during the '60s. you can't enter without all to the pill but part of it is a much bigger revolution underway. the pill is a part of it and it certainly is a factor of.
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>> host: i wondered about that actually. wasn't there a big leap in divorce rates when laws were changed? there was a lot of pent-up demand for divorce for getting a divorce was very difficult to you had to have grounds. you had to hire a detective to find you. it's a tremendous, a lot of hypocrisy went on and there were also all kinds of rules about custody and alimony that prevented people from getting a divorce. basically you are expected to stay married. once the law change people said okay, let's go forward. >> guest: it also coincided with more opportunities available for women if they were divorced to go get jobs, to raise children on their own and not be seen as a complete outcast. the pill had something to do that as well. >> host: at one point you put pornography on the list of things we can thank the pill for. >> guest: the idea, i think it was a chip in it to --
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contribute to certain critics. you have a slide towards promiscuity and to bring all these, loosening of the morals we would lead to things including moral casual attitude toward pornography. >> host: you mentioned that in japan the pill was only legalized quite recently. they kept it out for many decades, and you say th the rean was the fear that women would be, promiscuous. because japanese man, i mean, pornography, geishas, staying out all night drinking with your friends. they are having a wildlife when they're not working themselves to death. so it is the specifically women being promiscuous. >> guest: the only approved the pill in japan after viagra got there. >> host: i did know that. that's hilarious.
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ethnic women complain. if you are giving an viagra us the pill, there's a problem. birth control device in the '30s and '40s were named for transom because she was the first to go over there and spread the word. she was a hero. >> host: you mentioned there was an abortion medication that was marketed under her name, named after in japan like i think in the '30s even. what was that traffic i don't know how it worked for what it did. i just saw an advertisement for and it just goes to show her power, her influence over there. people thought any brand named sanger would be identified as something that gave women some control over reproduction. >> host: even though this is the last decade of her active life, sanger lost control of most of the organizations that she had helped found and she always hated the name planned
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parenthood. she thought that was mealymouthed. she preferred the term birth control which he had invented. but she organized this huge conference in japan, an international conference on reproductive developments. and she was in her late '70s than, and i just thought, you know, she's an older woman and she's still incredibly active, even at a time when people are saying she's an old has-been, we don't care about her. but she was really still very active. >> guest: it was a 90 page five which held that conference in japan and she brought pincus over and told the press they're going to declare this new form of birth control had been discovered. it was not going to be an oral contraceptive and this would change the world. john rock said you can go over there. he told pincus you can do that.
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we've only tested it on 30 women. you cannot declare victory. pinkus always loved the headlines and bustle confident this is going to work, he went over there and made the speech and said this is it, we've got it. even though it was perhaps foolish, it was one of those things that opened the floodgates because now women all over the world were writing to the doctors and pincus and thing when can we get a? that helped make it seem like an inevitability when it was far from inevitable. >> host: i want to go back and ask you about something you said earlier, which was that the pill had not really fulfilled its promise of lowering birthrates around the world. i think maybe that would've been more true like 20 years ago, but now we are seeing tremendous drops in the birthrat birth rate places, in latin america, for example, and in asia. it's interesting because they used to have this idea, people
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want to control their family size until everything is all modern. but then what you're finding in countries like thailand, or much of latin america, the birthrate is falling through the floor even before modernization really catches up. and that the only places with the birthrate is still as high as it was in pre-pill days is sub-saharan africa and parts of the muslim world, but not other parts of the muslim world. it seems like it's been pretty successful and the problem is that everybody who wants it can get even today. >> guest: there is a problem with access, a problem with the reliability of just remember to take it everyday. problems with calls. that limited the pill in the early years. now they're using the same technology to make long acting forms of contraception that can be implanted. is basically work on the same hormones that pincus developed and they are much more
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effective. still expensive in some parts of the work of the are much more effective. i do think it could be that for the first 30 or 40 years, that parpart of sanger string was not really come true but we are starting to see progress there. >> host: although it may come a little late because there are so many people, even if you have two children would be a long time after global warming. the population will start to fall a little bit. let's talk a little bit about population control and eugenics as part of birth control story. >> guest: sanger today is often criticized for being a eugenicist and for being a racist but i think it's a little unfair. it has to be understood in context. she said some things that by today's standards are reprehensible but she was a part of the movement at the time, part of an era where eugenics is something talked about widely in mainstream circles, talks at
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harvard, especially among the well-to-do. something that was widely discussed the how do we encourage the kind of big as we want and discourage the babies we don't want, the poor, the uneducated. it sprang from some racist views but it was also considered part of the mainstream debate at the time but she was very much a pragmatist. she thought by gaining allies, from anywhere she could including the eugenics movement, it would help further her cause. she was looking at the big picture. >> host: i think it's so hard to put oneself back in the framework, mental and emotional framework and political framework of an earlier day. i don't think she was racist. she was concerned about very poor people who are often immigrants having enormous families that they couldn't take care of and the terrible effects of that on everybody's health
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and life and all like that. but she was actually close to a lot of black activists and individuals out there who really loved her like w.e.b. dubois and her birth control clinics in the south were staffed by black people, and were not at all coercive. people wanted to control their fertility. and the fact loretto ross who has written brilliantly about race and reproduction is one of the people who has put together the framework of reproductive justice, you know, a way that people are starting to think more about reproductive issues. she said black women have always seize the opportunity to control their fertility, even more assertively than white women sometimes. i think when people throw around
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racism, they are reaching. >> guest: i would agree. it's an easy way to attack sanger, applied modern standard of language we throw around casually now. if you look at the details of her life it's far more complicated. she's almost always on the side of helping women of all colors. >> host: she was very progressive and other political areas and she started out as a socialist. she always voted for norman thomas. that was her little cash if she kept up a socialist candidate. >> guest: her whole career begins because she's working -- her own family had issues. her mother had to make sure she felt like i and she worked in te tenements of lower east side of irish and jewish families to have more children they could handle. that really launched her career goes back coming back to the present day, i'm curious what you make of some new
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developments in reproductive medicine and control. one of the things that struck me so much but your book is how far back some of these things we think are so new or, like pincus was working on in vitro fertilization in the '30s. and the iud turns out to be from the '20s. i wouldn't want one of those things. they were as big as a suitcase, but still we think of that as naturally state-of-the-art. state of the art. that's very modern. there's a long history here, that something like egg freezing, for example, is, that's the latest, egg freezing. because apple and google i think have said that they would pay for a certain amount of this for their women employees. that would give women, if it works, nobody knows how successful it can be when you unfreeze those eggs 15 years
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later, that that would give women even more control. one of the things that you make some clear from the early days of opposition to all this research when pincus was in the news a lot for test tube fertilization kinds of things, which people, "the new york times" reporting was truly shocking on the. they just completely sensationalized it because he never did make a rabbit in a test tube. but one of the things that was said was, this will make men unnecessary. now women will have all the power. i'm not quite sure why they thought that. because if he made a baby in a test tube without a human body to be in, how would that give women all the power?
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>> guest: i guess they were worried women wouldn't be burdened in what i do have time on their hands. >> host: make trouble. anyway, can you talk a little bit about the most recent developments like freezing your eggs country it's interesting to note because was working on the morning after pill before he died and had it set off to the site is actually went on to patent it. we have a move that far. we talked about the same issues today that we were in the days of pincus' work. today and you really haven't seen has been a major breakthroughs i think in contraception as sanger would have expected. the fact we are still working on the same hormones in a slightly different form is surprising. there is as much research on the scientific and. nobody is thinking as boldly as these guys were. you have people like the gates foundation, melinda gates
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funding a lot of research looking for better ways, looking for products that will help areas that haven't been reached as much. there's more research going on, egg freezing, things that affect well-to-do women in the united states, in europe. but in communities where there isn't that kind of money, where options are still much more limited. >> host: do you know anything about this latest? can you tell us anything concrete about this latest scientific -- >> guest: there's always a lot of talk about new options for men. they always say it's just 10 years out. then it's 10 years, it's 10 years. but there are some things they're talking about from in the good work. that race is a big issue. will men do it. will then go for it. they don't have the same incentive because men don't have to what about getting pregnant. if there's a new product from it and have some side effects how do you market it? one of the side effects of the
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birth control pill is it is cut in and out of for the most part. men feel like it's our our responsibility, she'd want to get pregnant. she has the pill. ism chassis cover. it isn't a dialogue between men and women. men feel like it's an awkward subject for them to talk about. they don't like condoms and that's where the conversation ends. that will raise serious problems if science does come up with series options for men. me. are men going to be willing to consider it? >> host: sanger and mccormick both felt the great thing about the pill besides all the other great things was that it gave woman control and women to be taking it without her partner knowing because a lot of men didn't want their wives to have this control. they didn't care how me kids she had because it was just her. it was all on her. they could just walk away.
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is interesting -- it's interesting that that argument, this is women control. men don't need to know about it. it's kind of. with another argument which is i wouldn't trust a man to use it. if they said to be using it and they work, or why would they remembered to take their pill? but i think that's changing as men and women become a little more that are able to talk to each other about things and more equality. it's no fun for a man to have a baby at the wrong time. >> guest: i think the fact that women and men are on much more equal footing today than they were in sanger's days, that these are discussions a couple could have and should have together. we're getting better at it. as long as the responsibility lies so heavily with the woman, i think men are stuck in a bit of a pass and are sometimes relieved to take that past.
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>> host: i want to ask you, i just a few more questions and one of them might sound frivolous but it's something that interested me greatly. why is it so hard for people to remember to take a pill? not just the pill. any bill. you talk in a book about how much would these women? they don't remember. the wonderful title pack was invented by a man who structured his wife kept forgetting. so he wrote out a piece of paper with all the dates on and he put a bill on each day. then the paper fell because you'd make sure, did you take a pill? let's make an expert at davisville and the pills fail. so he invented this wonderful title pack that allows you to keep track. yet people do seem to have trouble taking any kind of medication every day. i of this problem myself to get a ticket today? i don't remember.
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help me. help me out. >> guest: our lives are public advocate remember what we did this morning. that's why some people prefer the implant, the long acting -- >> host: the iud for example, which is unfortunately very expensive, and the afford a will to act to help with that. it's interesting that the people opposed to the birth control provisions in the affordable care act, often focus on these long acting methods. and you think why? because they really were? is that the problem? >> guest: it's worth noting one of the things sanger talked about when she first had this vision is they should be a pill that is not connected to the act of sex but you don't have to take it right before sex pic you just take it everyday and you forget about it. you can have sex whenever you want but there's a stumbling and bumbling and weight in the heat
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of the moment was to reach for my pill. she is assistant this should be something to take like a vitamin every day. when you think about it was brilliant. it disconnected from the act of sex and it be stigmatized a little bit. >> host: this is been a wonderful discussion but i've learned a lot. your book is just great and i wish you every success with it. >> guest: thanks so much. >> host: thanks for being here. >> that was "after words," booktv's signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers and others to million with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on a booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday, and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to and click on "after words" in the booktv
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series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> co-authors of dog whistles. first of all, gentlemen, tell me about your day job spent i am a longtime political journalist. is a senior editor of political for many years. i'm a freelance writer now among other projects. >> i'm also political journalist, co-author of the american politics. >> you have not written your own book, dog whistles. where are we going with this? >> well, this is our attempt to sort of geek code and explain how politicians, people in washington but really politicians at all levels from city council to state houses talk. which is thought it was interesting to try to capture some of the unique phrases and expressions that people in
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politics, lobbyist, stabs, even as india say. we tried to make it fun. we tried to make it understandable to the average person who might be a little interest in politics but is may be confused by it. >> with one of your favorite phrases or dog whistles? >> in doing research for this book i noted the expression we need to have a conversation about how often president obama says the he basically says it would've his confronted with a crisis or a situation that has wanted to deal with. he said after the edward snowden nsa revelation. he said after colorado and washington state legalize marijuana for any said after the school shooting in connecticut. it's basically his way of rebutting just stop talking, shut up and listen to what i have to say about it. >> david marr, what is where your favorite? >> so many but the one with the most we're doing the research was the phrase my good friend to do this often on the house and senate floor, specifically the house floor where one member is
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talk to somebody of the opposition. sometimes even their own party but they say my good friend makes a good point but here's what is wrong. the truth is they're not really good friends. they probably don't even know each other's names because they're so me numbers serving in the body. it's a polite nicety. kind of a descendent from the british parliament of the right honorable gentleman. >> does this decode washington for people? >> it's something we aim to do. we tried to see what politicians really mean when they're saying things. ..
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>> do you know what one of -- >> well, so many of them, we've tried to keep up with the times for some of the latest political headlines. named after now-former house majority leader eric cantor who lost his republican primary in virginia back in june 2014, and is we have several others that relate to the 2014 election cycle and going into the 2016 presidential race. >> dog whistle gentlemen, thank you. >> here's a look at "the chicago tribune"'s list of their best of 2014 books.


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