Last month the term "birth control," originally coined by Planned Parenthood's founder Margaret Sanger, turned 100 years old. Although some form of birth control has been around as early as 1550 BCE, the actual term had yet to be born until that day in June in 1914. No pun intended.
Birth control has been in the news a lot lately after the Supreme Court failed U.S. women by allowing Hobby Lobby and other religious organizations to deny birth control coverage for their female employees. The ruling, which set back women’s rights and reproductive rights by decades, has not just made a lot of people angry, but has forced many men and women to be vocal about just how important birth control is. One such person is Lena Dunham.
Last week Dunham took to Twitter and tweeted, "I need birth control because I have endometriosis and it helps manage pain. Why do you?" What followed was a beautiful array of women sharing their reasons and experiences with birth control, each one unique in their own way. Afterward, Dunham thanked the "brave women and sensitive men" for their responses, and we were all like, "Ugh, Lena! I JUST CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU." At least that's how things went down in my corner of the world.
Over the past 100 years, there have been some major milestones and breakthroughs in the way of birth control. It's been an awesome, inspiring, and often-difficult journey, but one that we're all better for. Instead of listing out all those amazing moments, I'll let the infographic from Planned Parenthood speak for itself and narrow it down to the top five points in the history of birth control.
1. 1916: Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic. In 1916, just two years after coining the term "birth control," Sanger opened the very first birth control clinic in Brooklyn to provide safe sex options for women. However, she was arrested 10 days later, because birth control, the sale and distribution, was still illegal.
2. 1960: The Pill is approved by the FDA. Hell yeah! Is there really much more to say than that? Women getting one step closer to control over their reproductive organs? Sounds like a blast to me!
3. 1968: Women now have options for The Pill. Because the invention of The Pill wasn't awesome enough, by 1968 U.S. women could choose from seven different types of pills. Although the first IUD wouldn't be approved by the FDA until 1984, the fact that options were now part of the birth control equation was a major stride.
4. 1998: Contraception, in all forms, is now required to be covered by insurance for federal government employees. Thirty-three years after their first clinic was opened in New Haven, CT, Planned Parenthood won a "major legislative victory" requiring that ALL prescription contraceptives be covered for those employed by the federal government. This means even Republicans are covered, despite their plans to abolish it for others.
5. 2013: Age restriction for Plan B is lifted. Although emergency contraception was available for those 18+ back in 2006, in 2013 Plan B became available to everyone, man or woman, who requested it. You know, because people under 18 have sex, too.
Now, in 2014, we still have history to make and backward legislation to overturn. But don't worry; we'll get there. For all the women who came before us, and all those who have yet to be born, we'll get our access to birth control and put the fight to bed, because at the end of the day, it's a basic human right.