How the inventor of the pill changed the world for women
- about Carl Djerassi, one of the inventors of the Pill.
[regarding a male birth control pill] The first question a man would ask is: would it affect my potency? There have been clinical trials – it has no effect on potency. The second question is erection.
I can't figure out what the word "potency" means in that context. A male BC pill would obviously affect fertility, as that is the point of a BC pill. So potency doesn't seem to mean fertility. And it doesn't seem to mean the ability to get an erection, since that is the 2nd question, not the first. What does it mean?"How many acts of sexual intercourse would you guess occur every 24 hours?" he asks. "I often do this with my students, and they say a billion. I say: 'No, no, no, you're dreaming. There are six billion people. Well, you need two for sexual intercourse, so there are only three billion. And some of them are five years old, so they're out.' So then they say a million. Well, now you're underestimating, because you're sitting here and you're not having sex. It's actually 100m, every 24 hours. And they produce about a million conceptions, about half of which are unexpected. Of the 500,000, half of them are unwanted. As a result, every 24 hours, 150,000 abortions occur; of these, over 50,000 are illegal." Interview with Carl Djerassi
Some parts of this don't make sense to me. Having a male BC pill doesn't take away a woman's control over her fertility, it rather gives a man more control over his. But the comment about the female BC pill making men less willing to use condoms is intriguing. Djerassi suggests that in the future we will freeze our sperm and eggs, get sterilised and check out our sperm and eggs from the bank when we want them later. 'Then you might as well forget about contraception'.
Interesting idea. Maybe the actual eggs and sperm won't even need to be stored in the future. Maybe their DNA sequences will be scanned and saved as data, and maybe it will be possible to re-create an egg or sperm using that data. It wouldn't even really be necessary to extract and scan actual eggs and sperm... one could take the person's DNA and have a computer randomly select half the chromosomes to make virtual gametes. It will surely be possible to check the DNA for hereditary diseases, and to make corrections to prevent those diseases.
Once all that is possible, it would theoretically be possible for people to decide that they want to have a child using someone else's DNA (a celebrity, for instance), rather than their own. Or using a combination of multiple people's DNA. I wonder how much legal control people will have over their own DNA... will it be similar to copyright, and after a certain length of time after a person dies, will other people will be able to use that person's DNA? Or will only people directly descended from that person be allowed to use it? Will you be able to sell your DNA sequence for specific uses?Response - I never blamed the pill for the fall in family size
... I didn't know that the birth control pill wasn't legal in Japan until 1999.Birth control in Japan
- mostly via condoms.