Just in time to celebrate International Women’s Day, Catherine Eng contributes this blog post that celebrates a medical solution to family planning that many take for granted and yet remains out of reach 52 years later to millions of women around the world.
Country music legend Loretta Lynn was known for lyrics that bluntly addressed issues in the lives of many women. She believed no topic was off limits, as long as it spoke to other women.
In 1975, Lynn released The Pill, a single considered to be the first song to discuss birth control. The song tells a story of a wife who is upset about her husband getting her pregnant year after year, but is now happy because she can control her own reproductive choices. The song’s frank discussion of birth control was unprecedented at a time when many would have considered contraception a risqué subject matter. Some radio stations refused to play her song on these grounds.
“There’s gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill…‘cause now I’ve got the pill.”
Be sure to click on the video link below to listen and laugh.
In an interview later in life, Lynn recounted how she had been congratulated after the song’s success by a number of rural physicians, telling her how The Pill had done more to highlight the availability of birth control in isolated, rural areas, than all the literature they’d released.
Fifty-two years after the inception of the pill in America, conservative newscaster Rush Limbaugh felt free to call Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown university student who asked her university to cover hormonal birth-control, a prostitute and a whore. His ignorant comment reminds us that there still exist widespread misconceptions and stigmas surrounding contraception. Let’s take the opportunity on International Women’s day to clear up any misconceptions, to examine the many social benefits of contraception and family planning.
There exist 215 million women around the world who want contraception and HIV prevention services, but have no access to either. If all the unmet need for contraception were met, the result would be 94,000 fewer women dying of pregnancy complications each year, and almost 25 million fewer abortions each year. Nicholas Kristof, columnist with the New York Times, sees voluntary family planning “as a cost-effective strategy to reduce poverty, conflict, and environmental damage” worldwide. Providing family planning is a win for all–women, men and the planet.
On International Women’s day, lets take inspiration from Mrs. Lynn and use our voices to insist upon greater public knowledge about contraception—how it should be used in its different forms as well its multifold benefits. Only when stigmas are conquered will a world in which contraception and family planning are available to all be possible.
“You’ve set this chicken one last time, cause now I’ve got the pill.”
About the Author: Catherine Engh is a feminist and an aspiring writer particularly interested in the ways that girls and women are represented in fiction and television. She wrote this piece for 9 Ways.
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