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The Pill Turns 50
Date:5/7/2010

tional right for married women to use birth control pills.

It wasn't until 1972 that single women were granted the right to take the Pill.

Still, the Pill wasn't -- and hasn't -- been embraced by all. Many groups, including religious conservatives, view oral contraceptives as anti-life. There have been numerous reports of pharmacists across the country refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control pills and morning-after pills because the medications violate their moral or religious beliefs.

"Our group was founded with the idea of returning pharmacy to a healing-only profession. What's been going on is the use of medication to stop human life. That violates the ideal of the Hippocratic oath that medical practitioners should do no harm," Karen L. Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, told the Washington Post in a 2005 interview. Brauer was fired from a Kmart pharmacy in Ohio for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions.

And while reams have been written about the Pill and how it helped to usher in the looser sexual mores of the 1960s, Alex Sanger, grandson of Margaret Sanger and chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council in New York City, doesn't believe that the Pill spawned the sexual revolution. Or at least not the first one, which he believes occurred in the 1940s and '50s, courtesy of his grandmother and the emergence of the car as a middle-class commodity.

But, he added, the Pill "contributed, no question about it, to a decline in the birth rate, the end of the baby boom years, women entering the workplace and more women getting control over their fertility."

Since 1960, the size of the American family has almost halved, women have entered the workforce in record numbers and more are getting advanced degrees. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last month that nearly six out of 10 adults holding advanced degrees between the ages of 25 and 29 are women.

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