Roots of the Pill
One of the early female graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Katharine McCormick believed in science and in the advancement of women. Margaret Sanger witnessed unwanted pregnancies -- and desperate abortion attempts -- when she worked as a nurse among New York's poorest women. Though they came from different worlds, the two women set out to improve women's lives through "birth control," a phrase Sanger coined.
When Sanger and McCormick first met in 1917, women had been working for decades to achieve the vote. Thirty-nine years had gone by since a constitutional amendment for women's suffrage was first proposed, and three more years would pass before the states ratified it. At a time when women struggled for voting rights, job opportunities, or access to education, both McCormick, a suffragist, and Sanger, a birth control proponent, were outspoken advocates for giving women more control over their own lives.
Thirty years later, McCormick's sizable inheritance combined with Sanger's tireless advocacy would bring about the birth control pill and spark a revolution. "An estimated eighty percent of all American women born since 1945 have taken the Pill," says historian Andrea Tone, giving them the ability to plan their reproductive lives.
Learn more about Sanger, McCormick, and the roots of the Pill.
Conceiving the Pill
Watch a 16 minute film produced in 1966 by Planned Parenthood Federation® of America, Inc., narrated by Katherine Hepburn.