tv After Words CSPAN November 29, 2014 10:00pm-10:57pm EST
medical merchandising and make it incredibly exciting. i'm curious to know, your previous books were about baseball and al capone. what made you choose this subject? >> guest: well it's funny because i really had not had it on my radar at all. it must have been 10 or 12 years ago i heard a rabbi give a sermon about the importance of thinking of yourself as a partner with god and be able to change the world, not just to improve yourself and be kinder around -- to people around you but how we can transform our existence. he said as an example the birth control pill. think about how the birth-control pill must have set out to create one of those important inventions of all ti time. it completely fundamentally change the human dynamic as reproduction but he never said
who invented the birth-control pill or how we got it and i became curious. it struck me as odd 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 fertility. who did that so that's where the idea came from. when i looked into it i found this incredible story of these outsiders these underdogs who had no enfranchisement no government support no university support in setting out to do something that everyone told them was impossible. >> host: can you sketch out what life was like before the pill? >> i think people today certainly i took it for granted and many people took it for granted before the 1960s when the pill became commonly used contraception was very limited. abstinence was your best bet in the absence was harder.
you had and some options available for women who went to their doctors that women have to go through men to get access to those and a effective and accessible forms of contraception. the average family size was 3.7 women in the 1950s and many women had eight or nine children. women equaled motherhood and a woman's person was to be a vessel and options were limited. you didn't see the opportunities to go to college and graduate school and start careers. it was a very different world and 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 was really, society was so different in the way women, the opportunities that present women in their ability to control their own body. the pill was one factor in turning that around that went -- it was an important factor. >> host: until the 30s
disseminating information about birth control was illegal. and so even those methods the in the diaphragm were very hard to come by and people didn't know about them. you talk in your book about how women would follow margaret sanger and state tell us the secret. what's the secret? guest:there must be some magical solution and they were felt like they were prevented from getting the information because the government would arrest people. she was arrested for putting these in the mail. those laws remain on the books. they weren't always in force but remained on the books until the 60s in some states. >> host: in connecticut it wasn't until 1965 that they struck down a law that said birth control, the sale and use
the birth control even by married couples is illegal. >> guest: in massachusetts as well until the late 60s and that is where they were doing this research on the birth control. even disseminating information about it was illegal. >> host: you wrote the book in such an interesting way as the story of four people coming together to create it. could you walk us through who those people were and what their role in the pill was? >> guest: it really is the human dollar. it is for human dynamic characters. they are all rebels and they knew they were doing something incredibly risky and without any one of them without any one of them at all falls apart. the first is sanger who we mentioned and she has been saying since the 1920s there
to be a miracle tablet per term, miracle tablet that allow women to turn off and on their reproductive systems. she's specific. it's something that women can control make and keep in their purses and men don't necessarily know when they are taking it and she's very specific about this but scientists have this folly that it's science fiction that it would ever happen. the science is there and it's illegal anyway. what universities going to support such research? she keeps asking for years and years and decades. every site to she meets who's interested in this area, what can we do. finally in the 1950s she meets a biologist one of the world's leading experts in the production. he has been fired from harvard because he is too radical and because he's jewish at a time of great anti-semitism. in the 1930s he was experimenting with in vitro fertilization in declaring that some of the scientists control the reproductive system.
men might not be necessary at all and that scared people tremendously. he couldn't find work anywhere so these working out of a garage and he starts his own scientific foundation going door-to-door in worchester mass asking people for donations. sanger says i can do a birth-control pill. if you have the money i can do a birth-control pill. she's flabbergasted how it's possible but he explains how it works. a woman art as a contraceptive in her body called progesterone. she can't get pregnant if she's pregnant because berger just until somebody not to produce more babies and that's the simplest way he explains it to her. what would it take? he says a couple thousand dollars. but then sanger goes out and finds an ally and catherine is the third in the quartet. she agrees to fund the whole project. she is a wealthy heiress whose husband left her hundreds of millions of dollars when he died
and she says whatever it takes she will build laboratories and by the animals for testing. she will write blank checks or whatever else you might need. pincus does need one more thing. he needs a doctor and needs to know how to treat women. he's a lap guy so he finds a catholic oncologist one of the most respected fertility experts in the country and agreed to work with him. now you have somebody who brings respectability into this who is also catholic and is willing to challenge the church and say sachs is good for marriage and shouldn't just be for reproduction in these four people on their own with some others involved this core group of four people set out to do something that everybody told him was impossible. >> host: what is so fascinating i looked at that catherine mccormack imported diaphragms from europe by having them sewn into dresses because
it was illegal to make them. she was very creative person. she had a very tragic life because her husband was schizophrenic and insane. she spent her life taking care of him in seeing that he was taking care of. it wasn't until he died when she was in her 70's that she was able to embark on this reproductive adventure. one thing that was fascinating was the two women in the story are both in their 70's and are playing such a major role. i actually wonder if you kind of slanted them in favor of pincus and rock who you spent more time on because that was kind of the last decade of margaret sanger's career. by the end of this -- the 50s
she was beginning to show senile dementia. she had been such an amazing force in the 20th century. everyone said she was one of the most important people of the 20th century. i wonder, you describe her as an old woman who loved sachs but actually she was a major thinker and theoretician of women's liberation in the 20th century. she writes a definitive novel women of valor and people should read that too along with your book. allen tressler said she was up there with mary wollstonecraft and jon stewart mao and elizabeth cady stanton and theorizing the independence of women, that women are not here
to reproduce children. they are not here to serve men and be subsumed in man's identity is was pretty much universal and still occurs. and she was very serious person and the pleasure of sachs was a part of that. >> i agree with that completely. i agree with chesler and her book is terrific but sanger sees the pill can be this tool that opens up all of these possibilities not just bring women to have sachs but to become equals of men. she believes this is something that if it gets out the genie gets out of the bottle that will change everything and she's right. her vision is absolutely correct. from a storytelling standpoint the only reason i think pincus and rock ended up stealing the spotlight is one she opens that door once she gets them working on it these are the guys who are doing the work to understand the process to build sanger's bright
idea to approval by the government at a time when birth control is illegal you have to see these guys who are testing the pill on women who in many ways are their lab rats. you have to see the process by which they can get drug companies to agree to make this. she is in the lab's keeping in the labs keeping ni on these men making sure that they don't in any way take this process over and turn it into a drug it meant. from a storytelling standpoint once sanger gets this idea pinkos and rock are the ones that carry the ball. >> host: you make it so exciting and how you describe pincus as he had the iq of an einstein and the nerves of a card shark. among the other things he was thinking of inventing was a cure for baldness. it's sort of like i want to be
doing some science here. rock was also fascinating because he started out as a very conservative catholic. in fact you said he confessed so many sins to his priest when he was a teenager that the priest family said you don't have to be so scrupulous. it's not bothering me every time he thinks about kissing a girl. he was extremely conservative and saw sachs as being primarily if not entirely for reproducti reproduction. he changes. talk about that. >> guest: what fascinated me was he goes to work as a doctor and chooses a gynecologist is a specialty and becomes exposed women in a way that most catholic men don't and becomes exposed to fertility issues that most men. matt would not. he has great empathy for these women. poor women are coming to his clinics with their children and
begging him what to do to stop this? the only option is hysterectomy which he is reluctant to do and only in severe cases where he considers it a medical emergency. he has such great sympathy for these women that i think he changes his view. he also begins to see that sachs is something that should be part of a marriage and brings couples closer together. maybe it's from talking to these women but as a result of that he begins to question and he remains a faithful classic -- catholic but wonders if it turned church's teachings in this area are wrong instead of wrestling with that inwardly he decides to see what he can do about it. it's very unusual and makes them a real hero. he goes and meets with the vatican and tries to convince them that they should embrace the birth-control pill before it's approved. >> host: yet the idea that the way the birth control worked made is sort of like the rhythm method, that the pope had
approved of in 1930. that kind of opened the door a little bit to the idea but it didn't work out get it? >> guest: it was interesting philosophical idea. >> host: tell us how did he see the pill in the rhythm method? >> guest: he tried to argue that that it was a way of improving on the rhythm method. you knew when it was safe to have sachs which was pretty much all the time. in presenting that the church which all of this hormonal stuff is new to everybody and we are learning how it controls the body and how artificial hormones in the form of a pill can change the body's functions. he argues to the vatican that this is an improvement on the rhythm method because it's very similar in philosophy. a woman is able to never save
period. if you know it's safe know it's safe you should build that have sachs for pleasure and the committee votes to endorse this idea but the pope says no and it didn't go over. >> host: there was tremendous opposition on the part of the church. they are still doing it but not as intensely. i have a quote from archbishop hays of new york and i believe the 1930s that contraception is worse than abortion because it's true abortion destroys a life but contraception plays with god's plan to create a life and that is satanic. it's very hard to work your mind around that because now many people who are opposed to legal abortion will say birth control, not the church and not the real diaphragm.
the organizations tend to oppose contraception too but it's really interesting to go back and see how strong the opposition wasn't also the sense too that you give of a lot of people think the i the birth control pill we already have. why do we need birth control? that is kind of amazing. >> singer said the key to birth control is control and that was the key to the birth-control pill putting women in control. at that point you could say it's great but the women had no control over so that was a big difference for her. as far as the church goes it was interesting if the church approved the birth control pill and held the line on abortion. it might've made a big difference in terms of how the flock would stay with them on these issues. what happens is most women begin to follow john rock.
i have this one area that i don't observe or agree with and rock turns out to have been the advanced troops. women start following him. he's a scout and women start following his approach and start leaving the church behind. >> host: and then too. it was the beginning of the catholic -- cafeteria catholicism. you take what you want. i got a letter from someone who said well i am a catholic so i oppose abortion so i decided i had to use birth control very faithfully. wait a minute here. you are missing something. so, did you have any idea going into this about the very strong political feelings attached to the pill even today? >> guest: oh sure. you can't miss it if you read the newspapers and that was a big incentive for me and wanted
to tell the story. i thought it would be great for people to understand how we got here and what it looked like before we have these options. we are still fighting over these things that sanger thought would be done with. she saw once the pill was out there everybody would see that it worked and change the world and gave women more opportunities and made women healthier and reduced abortion. she thought the argument would be over in the fact that it was not over shows how strong people feel about this issue. i don't think it's fair to keep fighting over the issues and where they come from. >> host: what do you think is the thing that bothers most people? most people who are bothered about contraception would you think is the reason? >> guest: i would like to get your opinion but i think it's deeply-rooted in sexism to be honest. people are uncomfortable with women approaching sachs the same way that they do. it's okay for men to have sachs for pleasure but not women.
if you look at the roots of why it's converse -- controversial it's a thousand-year-old bias. >> host: i agree with you and there's also this idea as women as the gatekeepers of sachs that they are responsible for restraining men. but if women can have sachs whenever they want like men have sachs whenever they want then all hell breaks loose. everything falls apart. and we see that playing out now. in the abstinence education thing that is like oh my god if a teenager has sachs or girls have sachs that's really terrible. most of it is about how they are not virgins. >> guest: all the talk is
about girls and women controlling access to sachs. i was amazed by the ads and i try to imagine that if there were ads for birth control for women that look like ads for man people would go crazy. it would be writes in the streets. you can't talk about sex that way because there are women involved but from an it's okay. >> host: maybe you can answer the question what is the story of the two people that separate bathtubs? what are they doing? >> guest: you want to get into the same bathtub, that's the key. i don't know. >> host: i assumed they were in the two tubs because they had already had sex. >> guest: if you want to get into that other tub you have to have. >> host: isn't a very good ad if that is clear.
let's see, the ethics of experimentation, 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 efforts of experimentation and testin testg drugs on women or on anybody was in the 1950s like a free-for-all. >> guest: we talk about what they did to test the pill. it sounds crazy and it sounds like it you could never get away with it today it is true but they were fairly within the standards. i mentioned earlier that they have this problem. have you test something that's illegal so they tested it on women seeking treatment for infertility. dr. john rock stations said
let's see if it shuts down. that was a little sneaky that women were told that this was something that might help them get pregnant when in fact it was something that would strongly believed would help them prevent pregnancy. they were tested in the sanest items i went to the sums of puerto rico and that's where they found hundreds of women who were able to sign up. the ethics were definitely questionable at times. >> host: it was interesting the first thing they tried to do was kind of really make female medical students take the pill and if they didn't they would get that -- but then they seemed to say hey women really want birth control. women were following them around in the streets saying it may have this thing. i have children and my husband won't use a.
my husband thinks it's fine to have as many children and they were using sterilization a lot. women were begging for sterilization. we remember the history, that history mostly as the history of forced sterilization and there was a big racist component. and the same with testing the pill in puerto rico and less successful in haiti. there was this other side of this tremendous demand. >> guest: that's right is complicated because women were offered free sterilization after every childbirth in puerto rico. they weren't forced but they were offered it and the society was paying for most of those sterilizations. the average family after woman had seven children in 1950s when they heard there was this pill available, it was an experimental product or not didn't matter. they began begging for it and
clamoring for it in lining up the clinics. the preachers would say we have heard there is this new contraceptive. remember the church does not allow this in the lines of the longer because it was advertising. there was definitely a demand and when they tried to force it on the female nursing students they wouldn't go for it because the side effects were so severe. they couldn't put up with the terrible side effects. those were much higher than they needed to be that women with seven or eight children were willing to put up with more side effects than the nurses were. >> host: 78 children is a pretty big side effects. when the pill was first marketed it wasn't marketed for birth control. it was marketed as regulation. can you talk a little bit about that and the whole process, the writ bill that this was what it was about?
>> guest: these were guerrilla warriors they were having their fight. they are doing things in ways that were surreptitious because there's nobody backing this. there is no university supporting it so they finally see there is demand for this. the women in puerto rico show there's demand for it. pincus and sanger are getting hundreds of letters from an thing i heard there's research going on with this birth control pill and when can i get a? they see there's a demand and they are able to take it to a drug company who have been supplying it all along but they said keep her name out of this. they said to jack searl the ceo and owner of the company's women are clamoring for this. maybe he should take a chance on it so searl agrees to go to the fda and apply for permission to license these drugs and get that approved that they say we are not going to call it birth control. were going to call it a regulator of the cycle, the cycle.
they show them all the stated that it really does regulate the cycle and the fda says it seems to. the bottle comes with a label that has a warranty that says we will prevent pregnancy -- prevents pregnancy and this becomes more advertising for the pill and the women are going to their doctor saying they need this to regulate their cycle but in fact they needed it because they didn't want another child. doctors were prescribing it off label as well so now you've got a groundswell and women are finding this tool even for it labeling a tool that they are supposed to have. that makes a huge difference. >> host: it was years later that finally they got permission to market it as a birth control pill officially. >> guest: even then searl did not file a new drug extension.
they said remember the pill you approve for regulations of the cycle we would like to add a use. it also prevents pregnancy and by then hundreds of thousands of women were taking it and the fda had no reason to not approve it. >> you talk a little bit about thalidomide. you compare and contrast and the case for us to live in mind that was also supposed to prevent morning sickness that was widely used in europe and cause devastating birth effects. it wasn't marketed here because we had stricter rules, but what was the relation of that terrible scandal to the development of the market of the pill and its approval? >> guest: thalidomide was starting to be distributed in the united states by samples. doctors were giving out samples when the fda began to notice there were problems and babies were being bored with these to form these.
at the same time the pill was in the approval process and i think if thalidomide problems were discovered a year earlier it probably would have stopped the development of the birth-control pill. when you think about it the pill was like nothing ever before. this was a pill women could take every day. it was altering their hormones and for healthy young women. it wasn't to cure disease or fix an ailment. this would allow women to control their hormones and the standards for approval were much higher. it could only be tested on 132 women who are taking the pill for six months or more when it was approved by the fda. they never would have gotten drafted the bullet of my 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 version of the rhythm method which is called natural family planning which i say given all the equipment you need and you have to look at your cervical mucus every day and take our temperature, it doesn't seem symmetrical 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 so many years after the pill has totally inserted itself into american life in such a big way. it's hard to find women who have not taken it. there is this reaction against it. guess who its natural considering these are hormones we are tinkering with and it's a woman's body that's affected by. along studies have shown it safe and it's good for you and women
who are on the pill have fewer kinds of cancer and fewer long-term health problems. they live longer when they're on the pill so it's an interesting dilemma but i understand if you're messing around with someone's hormones it's a personal issue. >> host: this occurs 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 in prevents heart attacks. you live longer. it decreases your risk of death in childbirth in all kinds of disastrous things that can go wrong in pregnancy and childbirth. so why can't it be smuggled then to acceptability with the catholic church? this is a medication or primary effect of which is to make you more healthy with a secondary benefit but that of course is not why you're doing it to preventing pregnancy?
>> guest: is a fascinating argument of john rocker taken that to the church in 1957 instead of trying to compare to the rhythm method but said we have this new women's health pill that in addition to all of these other benefits allows them to decide when they are ready to get pregnant or not and when they are ready to start their big catholic families which is what the church wanted, that might've been a very different argument. it's all about how you frame these things in the beginning they took their best shot at frame yet. they focused on the issues of the day which were population control and not sex, 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 matt over the decades they thought it would. it was an important movement at the time. it's easy now 60 years later to say they should have recognized that this has health benefits. they could could not have known that because no one had taken it
long enough. >> host: in fact i think most people don't know that now. we hear so much more about the possible dangers of the pill and side effects, some of which seem to be you suggest at one point our what's the word i want? >> guest: i will say in defense of pincus and sanger and rock the biggest argument they made all the side effects woman are suffering a special and they were ramping the doses up to high all a potential dangers we may learn about down the road are miniscule compared to the number of women dying in childbirth from unplanned pregnancies and the number of children being born into poverty. if we can reduce those the overall health benefits are going to overwhelm any possible side effects of the drug. that was one of the important arguments they made when they were putting the sun. >> host: is kind of amazing that didn't carry a lot more
weight. for example with religious objections. you are saving women from death in childbirth. >> guest: it is disappointing that even now it doesn't carry more weight because you it should carry more weight today. as i think people don't think anymore that death in childbirth is a thing but they are wrong because 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 about mortality. overnight you start to see these changes changes occurring for men's health and opportunities within 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 about the social changes that the pill helped bring about. just talk about that.
>> guest: almost overnight you start to see women pushing back the age that women have children and get married. you see college staying longer and instead of becoming secretary city come -- they get bachelor's degree. there's an alarm in the story like what's going on these women are having sex on campus. it's getting a little crazy out there but they also note there are all these huge fundamental changes. women are waiting longer to have children. people notice it almost instantly and it's very rare to see that cultural change happening so quickly. >> host: it's interesting, when you describe women's lives before the pill, how you get married and maybe nine months later or 11 months later you start having children. it's really kind of the end of other possibilities for you. for example pinkos' wife lizzie
is a character in the book. life seems so sad to me and maybe didn't do her, got now. >> guest: i think she was deeply frustrated. she hears a brilliant woman is brilliant as her husband and she surrounded by these billion people. she's hosting cocktail parties for the scientist. nobel laureates are dropping by the house and she can hang with any of them in conversation but there's nothing for her to do except to do except make the casseroles and wait for her husband to come off from work. she is terribly frustrated and there were millions of women in that situation all over the country, all over the world. the opportunities weren't there for them because they got pregnant and that he didn't get pregnant if you got married people begin to wonder what was wrong with you. that was the cultural norm. >> host: or if he only had one child. you talk about it's interesting how fertility, and fertility was attributed to attend john rock with someone who thought maybe
men have something to do with this. he would test the men and he was one of the few people who have this thought so deeply ingrained and everything about reproduction is all about women. >> guest: women's lives were really defined by their pregnancy or their lack thereof. if god forbid they got pregnant before they were married they were cast from society. if they didn't get married and didn't want to have children because they wanted to start careers they were considered freaks. the pill allowed a lot more range of opportunities and a lot more choices for women. >> host: what about some of the social changes? talk about that. >> guest: they are the jobs and careers and that's one social change and then you start to see this feeling of a sexual revolution more casual sex and promiscuity and divorce rates begin to rise. you can attribute at all to the
pill but part of it is a much bigger revolution underway. it certainly is a factor. >> host: i wonder about that actually. there is a big leap in divorce rates when the laws were changed. there was a lot of pent-up demand for divorce but getting a divorce was to very difficult. you have to have ground and you had to -- it's a tremendous, lot of hypocrisy went on. they were 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 changed hey okay let's go for it. >> guest: also there would be more opportunities if women were divorced to get jobs and raise women on their own. the pill has something to do with that as well. >> host: you put pornography on the list of things that we
think the pill for and i didn't understand that at all. >> guest: at the idea and i think i was attributing it to certain critics but what they are saying is you have the slide towards promiscuity and that brings about the loosening of the morals including the more casual attitudes towards pornography. >> host: you mentioned in japan the pill was only legalized quite recently. they kept it out for many decades and you say the reason was the fear that women would become promiscuous. japanese men, pornography, geishas and staying out all night with their friends. they are having a wildlife when they're not working themselves to death. so it specifically women. >> guest: they only approve
the pill in japan after got there. >> host: i didn't know that. >> guest: you are giving men not giving women the pill? the ironing is that margaret sanger was hugely popular in japan. birth control devices were made named for her because she was the first to go there and spread the word. she was a hero. >> host: you mentioned there was an abortion medication that was marketed under her name. it was in japan i think in the 30s. what was that? >> guest: i don't know how it worked or what it did but i decide to advertise. it goes to show her power and influence over there. people thought any brand-name sanger or sango which is how they often sell the product would be identified as something that gave women control over reproduction. >> host: it's interesting because even though this is the last decade of her active life and sanger had lost control of
most of the organizations that she helped found and she always hated the name planned parenthood. she thought that was mealymouthed. she preferred birth control which she had invented. but she organized this huge conference in japan, an international conference on reproductive developments. she was in her late 70's than and i just thought you know she's an older woman and she still incredibly active even at a time when people are saying she's an old has-been and we don't care about her. but she was really still very awkward. >> guest: was 1955 when she held a conference in japan and she brought pinkos over and told the press they were going to declare this new form of birth control have been discovered that was now going to be an oral contraceptive and this would change the world.
john rock said you can't go over there and told pinkos he can't do that. we have only tested on 30 women. he can't can declare victory. pinkos love the headlines and was so confident that this is going to work he went over and made the speech and said this is that we have got it. even though it's perhaps foolish was one of those things that opened the floodgates because now women all over the world were writing to their doctors and pinkos insane when can we get it quick that help 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 thought the pill had not really fulfilled its promise around the world. i think maybe that would have been more true 20 years ago but now we are seeing tremendous drops in the birthrate in latin america for example and in asia.
it's interesting because we used to have this idea that people want to have control of the family size. but then you are finding in countries like thailand or much of latin america the birthrate is falling to the floor even before it catches up. and the only places where the birthrate is still as high as it was in pre-pill days in sub-saharan africa and parts of the muslim world but not other parts of the muslim world so it seems it's been pretty successful in the problem is not everybody who wants it can get it even today. >> guest: there's a problem with access and the reliability of remembering to take it every day and problems with cost. i think that limited the pill in the earlier years. now they're using the same technology to make long acting forms of contraception that can
be implanted in basically work on the same hormones that pinkos developed. they are much more effective and still expensive in some parts of the world but much more effective. i do think it could be that for the first 30 or 40 years that part of sanger's dream was not coming true but we are starting to see progress now. >> host: it may come a little late because now there are so many people that it's going to be a long time after global warming. what the population will start to fall. a little depressing. let's talk about population control as parts of the birth control story. >> guest: sanger today is often criticized for being a genesis genesis than a racist and i think it's unfair. they certainly said some things
that today's standards are reprehensible. she was part of an era for eugenics was something talked about widely in mainstream circles and talk about harvard and especially among the well-to-do something that was widely discussed. you encouraged the babies we want to discourage the babies we don't want the poor and uneducated. it sprang from racist views but it was also considered part of the mainstream debate at the time. she was very much a pragmatist. she thought i gaining allies from anywhere she could including the eugenics movement to further her cause. >> guest: . >> host: it's hard to put oneself back in the framework the mental and emotional and political framework of the early days. i don't think she was racist. she was concerned about very poor people who were often
immigrants having enormous families that they couldn't take care of in the terrible effects of that on everybody's health and life. she was actually close to a lock of black activist individuals of the day who really loved her like w.e.b. dubois and the student and her birth control clinics in the south were staffed by black people and were not at all coercive. people want to control their fertility and in fact loretta ross who has written about race and reproduction and is one of the people who has put together the framework for reproductive justice as a way that people are starting to think more about reproductive issues, she said black women have always said he used the opportunity to control
their fertility more assertively than white women sometimes. i think when people throw around racism, they are reaching. >> guest: it's an easy way to a tax sanger applying modern standards and language we threw around casually now but if you look at the details it's far more complicated. she is almost always on the side of helping women of all colors. >> host: she was very progressive in other political areas and started out as a socialist. she always voted for -- she kept the socialist candidate. >> guest: her whole career began because she was working with her own family having issues. her mother had to many children she felt like an and she worked in the tenements of the lower east side and saw irish and jewish people that more children that they could handle and that
was the impetus that pushed her career. >> host: coming down to the present day i'm curious what you make up some new developments in reproductive medicine and control. what are the things that struck you so much about people and how far back this went back. pinkos was working on in vitro fertilization in the 30s and they iud turns out to be from the tonys. i wouldn't -- they were as big as a suitcase but still we think of that is very modern. there is a long history here but something like egg freezing for example that's the latest, egg freezing because apple and google i think have said they would pay for a certain amount of this for women employees. and if it were because no one
really knows how successful it can be when you unfreeze those eggs 15 years later, but that would give women even more control. one of the things that you make so clear from the early days of opposition to all this research when pinkos was in the news a lot for test tube fertilization kinds of things which "the new york times" report was really shocking on that. they just completely sensationalized it because he never did think about it in a test tube. one of the things that was said was this will make men unnecessary and women will have all the power and i'm not quite sure why they thought that. if you made a baby in a test tube without a human body to be
in, how would that give women all the power? >> guest: i guess they were worried that women would have more time on their hands. >> host: anyway can you talk about the most recent developments like freezing your eggs? >> it's interesting that pincus was working on the morning after pill before he died in handed bat off to scientists who eventually went on to patent it. we haven't moved that far and are targeting the same issues in the days of pincus' work. we haven't seen as many major breakthroughs in contraception as sanger would have expected. the fact that we are still working on the same hormones in a slightly different form is surprising. there isn't as much research on the scientific end. nobody is thinking as boldly as
these guys were. you have people like the gates foundation, windy gates funding a lot of research looking for better ways and areas that have not been reached as much. there's more research going on like you discussed the egg freezing and things that affect well-to-do women. communities were there isn't that kind of money were options are still limited. >> host: do you know anything about this and can you tell us concrete about these latest scientific. >> there's always a lot of talk about new options for men. they always say it's just 10 years out. but it's 10 years and it's 10 years but there are some things for men that could work. it's an issue. will mandu it? woman go fort? they don't have the same incentive that women do because
mandatory by getting pregnant. if there's a new product for men that have side effects how do you market it and one of the side effects is the birth control as it has cut men out of the discussion and they feel like it's the woman's responsibility. she is the pill and has us covered and there isn't the kind of dialogue. men feel like it's a mock word subject to talk about it only and that's where the conversation ends. are men going to be willing to consider it? >> host: 's sanger and mccormick both felt besides all the other great things that it was woman controlled and a woman could be taking it without a partner knowing because a lot of men didn't want their wives to have this control. they didn't care how many kids she had because it was just her comment was all on her.
they could just walk away. it was interesting that that argument this is woman controlled. men don't need to know about it is kind of paired with another argument which is i wouldn't trust a man to use it. if they said they were using it in they weren't or why would they remember to take the pill? that is changing as man and wh when -- women are better 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: the fact that women and men are on much more equal footing than they were in sanger state and these are discussions that couples could have together and should have together we are getting better at it. as long as the responsibility doesn't live solely with the
women men are getting a bit of a passive sometimes for leave to take a pass. >> host: just a few more questions in one of them might sound frivolous but something interesting lately which is why is it so hard for people to remember to take a pill? you talk a lot in your book about what's with these women they don't remember and the wonderful dial pack was invented by a man who was really frustrated because his wife kept forgetting. he wrote out a piece of paper and he put a pill on each day. in the paper felt. he would make sure, did you take your pill and in the paper fell in the pill so and they work back where they were before. so he invented this wonderful dial pack that allows you to keep track. people do seem to have trouble taking any kind of medication
every day. i have this problem myself with staton's which i'm supposed to take. did i take it today? i don't remember. help me out here. >> guest: our lives are complicated and we can't remember what we did this morning and that's why some people prefer the implants. >> host: the iud for example which is unfortunately very expensive and the affordable care act is supposed to help with that and it's interesting that people opposed to the birth control provisions in the affordable care act often focus on these long-acting methods. why, because they really work? is that the problem for you? >> guest: is worth noting that want to thank sanger talked about was this should be a pill that is not connected to the act of sex. you don't have to take it before you have sex.
just habit -- take it everyday and you can forget about. there's no stumbling and fumbling and oh wait in the heat of the moment i have to reach for my pill. this is something you take like a vitamin every day. when you think about it is really brilliant. disconnecting from a act of sex and to stigmatize us a little bit. >> host: this has been a wonderful discussion i have 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 familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday and 12:00 a.m. on monday. and you can also watch "after
words" on line. go to booktv.org and click on the "after words" in the booktv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> host: your relationship with irving kristol was well-known. was it a friendship? >> guest: it was largely a little bit in the mail. i would send him a script and he would send me his comments. armstrong williams was an african-american young conservative guy far more active than mr. kristol. he came out to california and was on staff conservative adviser advisor. mr. kristol was there from the beginning of the show and perhaps six or seven episodes just to get it started. >> host: what his people for the american way? >> guest: this cod
IN COLLECTIONSCSPAN2 Television Archive Television Archive News Search Service
Uploaded by TV Archive on