Female Medical Students In Puerto Rico Were Threatened With Expulsion If They Did Not Participate In Initial Research Trials Of The Pill

credit: Christina Henderson / wearemitú

Rummage through the bottom of a random woman’s purse, check out her nightstand, or behind her bathroom cabinet mirror, and there’s a high chance you’ll come across a plastic circular dial containing her birth control pills. Today, the pill is used by over 100 million women across the globe, including 11 million women in the United States. For liberal women, the pill’s narrative has been one of radicalism and celebration. The fight for women’s reproductive rights, namely the right for a woman’s access to birth control, has dominated the feminist agenda for decades and practically become its crest.

But long before the pill became a symbol of economic and physical freedom, or even a marketing angle for white women, the scientists behind the little tablet were using it to push their own agendas. Ironically, that agenda was partially based on eugenics and the sterilization of Puerto Rican Women.

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