Heralded as the catalyst of the sexual revolution and the
solution to global overpopulation, the contraceptive pill was one
of the twentieth century's most important inventions. It has not
only transformed the lives of millions of women but has also pushed
the limits of drug monitoring and regulation across the world. This
deeply-researched new history of the oral contraceptive shows how
its development and use have raised crucial questions about the
relationship between science, medicine, technology, and
Lara Marks traces the scientific origins of the pill to Europe
and Mexico in the early years of the twentieth century, challenging
previous accounts that championed it as a North American product.
She explores the reasons why the pill took so long to be developed
and explains why it did not prove to be the social panacea
envisioned by its inventors. Unacceptable to the Catholic Church,
rejected by countries such as India and Japan, too expensive for
women in poor countries, it has, more recently, been linked to
cardiovascular problems. Reviewing the positive effects of the
pill, Marks shows how it has been transformed from a tool for the
prevention of conception to a major weapon in the fight against
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