A Terrifying Future for Female Fertility - by the Man Who Created the Pill; 50 Years after the Advent of the Oral Contraceptive, Its Inventor Shares His Chilling Vision for Human Reproduction

Daily Mail (London), June 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Terrifying Future for Female Fertility - by the Man Who Created the Pill; 50 Years after the Advent of the Oral Contraceptive, Its Inventor Shares His Chilling Vision for Human Reproduction


Byline: by Helen Weathers

PROFESSOR Carl Djerassi is often asked what might have happened had he not invented the birth control Pill. Would there have been a sexual revolution, free love, and the cataclysmic shift in attitudes which continues to shape society? Would the world have been a worse or better place?

Did the Pill empower women by giving them control over their own fertility and the freedom to enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy?

Or is it, as one writer put it, one of 'the biggest disasters of the 20th century medically, morally and ethically'?

Professor Djerassi raises an eyebrow and admits to feeling 'p***** off" and offended by the 'hogwash' spouted by those who lay the blame for society's ills on the Pill.

'Without the Pill the sexual revolution would have happened regardless, but there would have been a lot more misery along the way in terms of unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions,' he says.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the licensing of the pill in the UK, and in October Professor Djerassi celebrates the 60th birthday of his scientific discovery. Now aged 86, but far from retired, he has agreed to meet me at his London flat to discuss his legacy and present his startling -- and some might say unsettling -- vision of the future.

Professor Djerassi believes that, with more of today's women delaying motherhood for economic reasons, his own invention could soon be redundant.

'There are an enormous number of welleducated, proficient women who, when facing the biological clock, first pay attention to their professional ambitions,' he says.

'Before they know it they are in their 30s. By the age of 35, they have lost 95 per cent of their eggs, and the rest are ageing rapidly. Sooner or later, in the next 20 years, more young people will freeze their eggs and gametes in their 20s, and bank them for later use. They will do away with the need for contraception by being sterilised, and withdraw their eggs and sperm from the bank when they are ready to have a child via IVF.'

The Father of the Pill, as Djerassi has been dubbed, leads me into an elegant living room adorned with fine art. He is a small, smart man, with white hair and a neatly-trimmed beard.

A professor at America's Stanford University, he regards himself more as an author and agent provocateur than a scientist these days. Through his writing he explores the social consequences of technological advance, hoping to bring the issues involved to a broader audience.

He calls it science-in-fiction, as opposed to science fiction, inviting the reader to make their own judgments, based on the facts.

Professor Djerassi eyes me slightly warily, wondering if I am the kind of person who deals in facts, or a fully paid-up member of the moral majority, a religious fundamentalist for whom contraception contravenes God's law.

'If I think the world is round and you think the world is flat, all argument is pointless,' he says. 'You will not change my belief, and I will not change yours.

'I am not religious, I do not believe in God. Although I respect the right of others to hold those beliefs, arguing over fundamentals is pointless.'

Worse still, in his eyes, could I be one of those feminists who has brought with her a long charge-sheet accusing the male inventors of the Pill of interfering with a woman's natural fertility, pumping them full of hormones, in order to make them sexual playthings for men?

Religious objections he can understand, but he expresses amazement that some highly-intelligent, welleducated women could remain such 'reproductive Luddites'.

These views -- bemoaning the medicalisation of female fertility and conception -- he regards not just as hogwash but as 'sentimental hogwash'.

'Feminists at the time were against the Pill on ideological grounds, considering it a male invention which impinged on the most intimate aspects of their body.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Terrifying Future for Female Fertility - by the Man Who Created the Pill; 50 Years after the Advent of the Oral Contraceptive, Its Inventor Shares His Chilling Vision for Human Reproduction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.