In Honor Of The Pill's 50th Anniversary, 22 People Weigh In On What Life Would Be Like Without Birth Control

Share

Hormonal birth control was a revolutionary force in the 20th century, encouraging female sexual autonomy and inspiring a new generation of feminists in the process. June 7th marks the 50th anniversary of the pill in the United States, which is cause for reflection on the ways women have been impacted by this modern marvel — and how much farther our country has to go to provide women the reproductive rights they deserve.

Whether you're a pill, a patch, a ring, or even a condom kind of girl, you owe a debt to Margaret Sanger. A tireless advocate for contraceptives back when the Comstock Law forbade women from taking control of their sexual health, Sanger was arrested multiples times for her radical tactics and wrote extensively about female sexuality, dodging allegations of obscenity left and right. Sanger and her allies' efforts eventually culminated in the 1960 release of Enovid, the first FDA approved oral contraceptive, and the modern reproductive rights movement was born.

Although the pill might not be for everyone and can cause dangerous side effects in some users, birth control's cultural currency is immeasurable. Many of us take contraceptives for granted, but it is crucial to remember that reproductive rights are still at risk in America, and that thousands of women do not have access to the luxury we enjoy. With that in mind, we reached out to readers and asked, what would your life be like today if you hadn't had access to birth control?

"I'd have a baby or five! I'd probably also have been married and divorced a few times." - Rachel, female, 27

"I'd be pregnant or constantly terrified of getting pregnant. I'm already paranoid enough about it and I'm on birth control." - Anonymous, female, 29

"The hormones in birth control are too intense for me to take personally, but on a cultural level I appreciate that it helps to create a sense of physical equality. I have had two abortions, and if not for the freedom to do so, I would never have been able to have the career I have today." - Anonymous, female, 31

"PAINFUL! It helps my endometriosis pain and symptoms go away." - Nicole, female, 28

"Much harder, I would have been a father at 15 with no means to support the child." - Anonymous, male, 29

"I would either have had way less sex or way more babies (as compared to my current zero). I may have gotten pregnant at the wrong time and terminated the pregnancy, which is something that I think would have had very difficult emotional repercussions for me. I think that without birth control, people would generally get married and have children earlier, and I may have ended up marrying the long-term ex who was not the best match for me because of this societal shift — rather than spending time alone, and then taking the ample time I've had with my current mate to decide that I do, in fact, want him to be my husband. We're about to be married, I'm thrilled about it, and I think that without birth control my life may have turned out very differently." - Julie, female, 31

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"Frightening." - Felicity, female, 29

"Very, very scary." - Antonia, female, 27

"I would plan to have sex with my girlfriend the time of the month when she's infertile, the Catholic way, or use the pull out method, or not have vaginal sex." - Anonymous, male, 26

"I would have been a teenage mother, since me as a 16-year-old from the backwoods had no access to a safe abortion. I would have never left my tiny rural town, or gone to college, or found my voice, or embarked upon a career. I would have faded away. I wouldn't have lived." - Kim, female, 27

"Lots of painful, long heavy periods. The constant fear of pregnancy. A lot less fun random sex. I would feel like a little girl. I would also have horrible cramps every month." - Anonymous, female, 26

"I would have probably gotten pregnant the first time I had sex, which is what happened to all the women in my fertile family. I was at a stage then that I would have had the child, missed out on grad school which led to overseas work, missed out on international travel, and had to return to my hometown where I had a support system to raise the child and work." - Kathleen, female, 66

"It's really hard to say! I'm fortunate that I grew up in a society that had access to birth control, that I got comprehensive sex education as part of my education (abstinence was promoted, but options were explained). Being able to enjoy sex without worry of pregnancy allowed me to become a fuller human being who sees sex and sexuality as part of life, not something dangerous or scary ... Overall, though, without giving women the power to choose when and whether to have kids, we would have a very different society, especially around gender roles. Feminism would still be a huge struggle because women would be seen as baby factories. 50 years of freedom. It's worth celebrating." - Marley, female, 33

"I would have all the babies, all the poverty, and all the depression." - Jessica, female, 28

"I would most likely been a stay at home mom and not had a career. Who's to say if that would be better than my life now or not." - Anonymous, female, 61

"DAD BOD." - Brandon, male, 38

"My life would literally consist of one long migraine, which birth control remedies. I would probably have to banish myself to a dark, silent room to ward off my splitting headaches. On top of that I'd probably have a child, because it's just a fact that condoms break. I don't think someone who spends her entire days in a dark, silent room fighting off migraines would make a very fun mother." - Kara, female, 25

"I'd have 100 children." - Charlie, male, 35

"Rather worrying, I would probably have had a child. Or, more likely, stayed abstinent forever to avoid said child. I'm from England and live in New York, and if I had had a child, I would have in no way been prepared to handle it, and also would not be able to live in America. Unless it was an American child, which I suppose would have made the visa process easier... But no, still not worth it." - Jenny, female, 25

"I would be a father." - Kenny, male, 24

"I would definitely be pregnant and living in poverty." - Meagan, female, 29

Images: Twitter/@LeanInOrg; Monik Markus, wenews/Flickr