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Contraceptives in the Movie “The Pill” Essay

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Updated: Apr 1st, 2020

Despite the fact that contraception as a phenomenon has been in existence for centuries, it was the introduction of the pill contraceptive that stirred a sheer outrage in the United States. While the idea of planned parenthood was understandable and acceptable at the time, the concept of a pill as the means of birth control did not sit well with the American society.

Though the significance of the acceptance of the specified medicine is often overlooked, it is the introduction of the famous pill that was a major step forward in promoting the prochoice view on the issue and advocating women’s rights all over the country, as the movie The Pill shows in a very graphic way.

When it comes to identifying the reasons for the unwillingness of the American society to accept the “pill” and admit women to their right to make a choice concerning childbirth, one must mention the lack of general awareness on the topic. Indeed, as the movie shows, manifesting itself in complete lack of concept about sexual relationships in general and what these relationships may lead to in particular: “There was this smoldering something that we were all supposed to know about but had no way of getting the information” (“The Pill” 00:00:45).

Locating the reasons for the pill to get such a negative social response from nearly the entire population of the United States, one must admit that the personal idea of purity and proper sexual behavior had little to do with the reality – in fact, it had insultingly little to do with the latter. These were the Puritanism views in the American society of the time and the what-would-the-neighbors- think attitude (“The Pill” 00:01:39) that defined the attitude towards the concept of childbirth control and the idea of using a pill as the key tool for it.

The pill, therefore, was not only the means of introducing a more careful parenthood planning system into the relationships of a husband and a wife, but also a tool for shaping the sanctimonious morals that the society of the time was powered by. Therefore, the revolutionary suggestion that Gregory Pincus came up with could be viewed as a salvation for women all over the USA.

Though the scientist is mostly credited for promoting the idea of using the hormone progesterone as the main ingredient of a birth control pill, he, in fact, should be praised for a different kind of innovation – before Pincus came up with the idea of using the hormone for birth control, the effects of progesterone on the female body had already been known, yet, much to the researcher’s surprise, the GD Searle Company “was doing little with it” (“The Pill” 00:20:12).

This does beg the question whether the prohibition of the pill, which was issued in the encyclical on the subject matter, was intended for the moral fabric of the Catholic people to remain intact, or for the church to refuse from providing women with their rights.

The controversy of the decision is that the Humanae Vitae “speaks of marriage in lyrical terms” (“The Pill” 00:42:58), i.e., provides “a view of sex that respects the human person” (“The Pill” 00:43:03), yet simultaneously denies women their basic human right in making a choice in the specified domain.

Because of the importance of the change that the introduction of pills as contraceptives has made to the lives of millions of women all over the United States, it must be viewed as a giant step in fighting for women’s rights in the USA, as the movie shows rather convincingly. The movie has shown that the issue has been topical for quite a while and is not going to become any less significant any time soon. In the 21st-century wake of the fight for human rights, though, major changes may occur to the public perception of “the pill.”

Works Cited

“The Pill.” PBS. New York City, NY: American Experience. 2003.

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IvyPanda. "Contraceptives in the Movie "The Pill"." April 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contraceptives-in-the-movie-the-pill/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Contraceptives in the Movie "The Pill"." April 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contraceptives-in-the-movie-the-pill/.


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