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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A View of the Brave New World from One of its Architects

A Terrifying Future for Female Fertility - by the man who created the pill

Three men are considered the "fathers" of the birth control pill. Gregory Pincus, research director of the Worcestire Foundation, Dr. Min-Chueh Chang, the foundation's senior scientist, and Dr. John Rock, an Ob-Gyn, who oversaw the first clinical trial. In this article, however, Dr. Carl Djerassi, claims his role as the pill's developer and obviously is proud of his part in it. This is the first I've read about him, but I'm sure research was going on in many places at the time. Serle had already developed a progesterone pill that was just sitting on the research shelf.

Pincus was the zealous man behind the research who teamed up with Margaret Sanger when the pharmaceutical firm backing his project pulled out. Sanger supported his work but, more importantly, brought in a rich sugar mommy as well, Katharine Dexter McCormick. As a research scientist Gregory Pincus had no human guinea pigs for his experiments so he encouraged a well-known Catholic Ob-Gyn, Dr. John Rock, to run the intial clinical trial of 50 women through his medical practice. Rock was known as a devout Catholic and daily communicant. Margaret Sanger who was fiercely anti-Catholic, nevertheless, was shrewd enough to realize the benefit of having a Catholic working to promote the pill. She reportedly said of him, "Being a good Roman Catholic and as handsome as a god...He can just get away with anything." And Rock became one of the pill's strongest devotees. He spent years trying to get the Church to approve it even writing a book, The Time has Come.

When Humanae Vitae came out, he stopped attending Mass. He died of a heart attack in 1984. I don't know whether Rock remained estranged from the Church or recognized the part the pill played in the sexual revolution and the moral decline of the culture. I pray for him and his confreres. Shortly after the pill was approved, Pincus died of a rare blood disease from exposure to toxic drugs in the lab, an ironically fitting end for someone who killed and injured so many women.

As for Carl Djerassi's whose article inspired this post, he sounds like a man in great need of prayer, although I wonder whether prayer can penetrate such a demeanor of pride and arrogance. But as the old adage says, "Where there's life, there's hope!"

For more on the history of the pill see:

The Pill by PBS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Rock was a Roman Catholic and a daily communicant. He was so distraught when Humanae Vitae came out, that he left the Church.

I wonder how many Catholic pro-lifers know that the inventor of the birth control pill was a Catholic?

Veronica