The Pill’s 50th Birthday Party

1963 Ortho-Novum ad for the birth control pill via <a href="">the Globe and Mail</a>.

50 years ago today, the FDA promised to give women a reliable way to control their fertility without resorting to crocodile dung, Lysol douches, or lemon rind diaphragms. Fans of irony will note that the pill’s FDA approval was nudged into being by a fervently Catholic doctor named John Rock, whose attempts to please the Pope also inspired the Pill’s medically pointless 28-day cycle.

[Read Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating 2000 New Yorker article on Rock and the Pill’s birth here.]

More than a million women were carrying the small circular pill containers in their purses by 1962, medicine masquerading as makeup compacts. As Time‘s Nancy Gibbs writes, “There’s no such thing as the Car or the Shoe or the Laundry Soap. But everyone knows the Pill, whose FDA approval 50 years ago rearranged the furniture of human relations in ways that we’ve argued about ever since.”

Gail Collins has a great column this weekend on what the Pill arguments are about now. Plus, don’t miss Elizabeth Gettelman’s whirlwind history of contraception here.

Happy 50th, Pill!