things that matter

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

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.

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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…

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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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After scientists hit a series of walls with the contraceptive pill, Puerto Rico became an ideal setting for scientific trials.

The four pioneers of the pill included the mother of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger.

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Biologist Gregory Pincus, and Catholic gynecologist John Rock also were involved, but the team initially came across various roadblocks.

Getting clinical trials off the ground in the U.S. was difficult.

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In most states, contraception was still illegal and many of the women who did take part in initial studies dropped out because of the severe side effects.

Most of these side effects included bloating, life-threatening blood clots, mood changes, and depression.

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Stumped on how to progress in the U.S., the team soon shipped their research to Puerto Rico, where birth control restrictions and anti-abortion laws were nonexistent.

Access to contraception was largely due to concern of overpopulation on the island.

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Birth control access was blocked from women in the United States. Pincus and Rock were confident they’d be able to get women on the island to participate in their trial and believed they would jump at the chance to take part.

Convincing them proved to be the opposite, however.

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Many of the women dropped out of the study because of the intolerable side effects, leading researchers to begin looking for women they could pressure into participating.

Eventually, they began to sign up female medical students in San Juan.

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They forced women’s hands by threatening their ability to participate in their medical programs.

It came down to two options for them: Stay and take part in the study, and they could get their degrees. Oppose and they could be expelled.

Each month, students faced grueling tests.

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Tissue was collected from their uteruses and some participants underwent laparotomies – surgical procedures that include large incisions that would expose their abdominal cavity for research.

Once the researchers felt they’d obtained sufficient data, they moved onto their field studies.

San Juan’s Rio Piers neighborhood, a community that consisted of a public housing development for farm laborers, became their target. Of these communities, one collaborating researcher wrote in his notes that “families selected were landless” and considered “to some extent [to be] social problems.”

Gabriela Soto Laveaga, a professor of the history of science at Harvard, admits this practice was a cultural norm for research. / Instagram

“The regulations were more lax, but also you had this belief that some people could be experimented on: the ‘feeble-minded,’ people of color, the poor,” she tells The Crimson.

Soon enough, researchers had recruited 265 unwitting guinea pigs.

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They were women who had been informed of what the pill could do but not of its side effects or that they were participants in a clinical trial.

But similar to their previous studies, researchers struggled to keep participants on the pill.

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In their paper on the trial, Pincus and Rock revealed that 22 percent of the women involved dropped out because of the pill’s severe side effects. What’s more, three deaths were reported. The women’s bodies were never autopsied or observed to see if the experimental pill correlated to their death.

Despite their findings, the researchers continued to further their studies in Puerto Rico.

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As well as other areas populated by people of color, including Haiti and Mexico.

In 1959, the team pushed for the FDA’s approval of the pill as a contraceptive drug.

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Soon after the Harvard scientists shipped out and headed back to Massachusetts, the trial’s pill, packaged as Enovid, hit pharmacies.

After months of enduring the trial’s invasive procedures and painful side effects…

Most of the women who participated were denied the very drug they helped pioneer.

The free pill that they had been given during the trial skyrocketed to $11 a month.

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It was a price far out of their reach.

To this day, women in Puerto Rico are reluctant to harness the power of the pill.

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In the most recent survey of contraceptive use in Puerto Rico, 46 percent of women aged 18 to 44 reported being sterilized.

In 2008, a survey concluded that 65.5 percent of the island’s pregnancies had not been planned.\

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More than 60 years after its creation, many women in Puerto Rico still struggle to grasp on to the benefits of the pill. What’s more, the women that took part in those trials largely remain swept under the rug in the pill’s historical celebrations.

What do you think about the Puerto Rican Pill trials? Know someone with a similar story? Tell us in the comments below and don’t forget to share! 

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

No Pos Wow

The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You


These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

With young Latinxs reclaiming the bruja identity, the demand for access to novenas, herbs and other specially crafted ritual tools has grown tremendously. Luckily, these Latinx-owned online botanicas have made it easy for brujas, or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the practice, to get their hands on the goods. Whether you’re looking to conjure up more cash flow or secure some extra protection from those pesky mal de ojos, these shops have the magia you need.

1. The Flowerchild Bruja

You know you’ve received some real tesoro when you open your delivery and see the holographic cellophane. Unmistakable and unique products are what make The Flowerchild Bruja’s shop un cielo de flores. Garden Smudge Sticks adorned with colorful flowers and loose herbs packaged in clear hearts make this online botanica a must-visit if you’re looking to manifest more love and beauty into your life.

2. Brooklyn Brujeria

No forlorn-looking saints and pale stricken Marys here! Brookyn Brujeria offers a fresh and modern take on the classic bruja necessity of novena candles. At $10 a candle, you can enhance the vibrations and style of your space without blowing all your chavo. With intentions like Boss Bitch and F*ck Outta Here, these ain’t your abuelitas’ novenas.

3. The Hoodwitch Store

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Thank you for all of your love & support to those who have been readers and customers of @thehoodwitch over the years. ♥️You know truly how hard I work and that this is my livelihood and culture. Visual art and magic ARE my life and practice. Not a peach flavored “turquoise” glitter drink. My magic is in my blood, my magic is in my ability to bring life to my visions, it is creation & destruction. Over the last 6 years, I have been so honored and lucky to be featured in some of the largest media publications internationally not limited to Instagram. This is bigger than that and the creative team for Starbucks knew that. I have personally worked on consulting large companies in their design concepts this work comes naturally to me. “So what’s the big fuss?” My personal style has become synonymous with the visual aesthetic of my brand. No, I absolutely did not “invent” the crystal balls nor acrylic nails but What I created was a space for myself along with other POC to feel represented and have visual imagery that was representative of us. The colorful candles of my local botanicas, my gold jewelry, and my long nails clutching my crystals are certainly not “new” but to see them presented in a manner that I shared visually in this space was. Katherine de Vos Devine @devosdevine is a lawyer and art historian who wrote a powerful and insightful look as to what exactly is happening with this situation and we are sharing it in our story today because more than anything she truly gives the full tea of the situation. I can strip away the crystal balls, the nail art, and delete all of my beautifully curated photos but I will always be me, I will always be my grandmother’s voices and wisdom. I will create, and I will always know my value and my worth. I trust and believe that my ancestors and my guides are looking after me. These giants may have the money to bully artists, creatives, and small business but we know the truth and absolutely must not allow it. As a small business owner, I appreciate you standing with us in this uphill journey and even if it goes nowhere, at the end of the day I can laugh to myself knowing that Starbucks made a drink inspired by HW 🔮

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If you’re in the market for an obsidian scrying mirror, unique tarot decks or nail polish for your mystic manos, then The Hoodwitch Store is your one-stop bruja shop. Be sure to also check out the Bruja Bookshop tab, where you’ll find vintage, one-of-a-kind libros to up your witchy wisdom. The shop offers some rare finds en español as well. However, make sure you stay up to date on the latest inventory. These goods sell out fast!

4. House of Intuition

If you live in LA, you’ve most likely heard of House of Intuition. With four brick and mortar stores throughout the area, plus an online shop, it’s probably a wise investment to grab one of their “Success” intention candles. Their beautifully colored novenas aren’t the only reason to check out the shop, though. Seriously, this casa is staked with everything from crystals skulls, cauldrons and wands to a line called “Hair Mystics” featuring crystal-infused hair mists. You’ll be glad your intuition led you here.  

5. Lunar Magic Shop

Lunar Magic Shop is the super affordable and super thoughtful shop with some of our favorite bruja apparel. You will for sure want to grab the “My Mom Will Hex You” tee for the little one in your life or the “I Am My Own Sacred Place” one for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well secure the “Motherhood”and “Student” crystal kit bags. This small shop definitely has the whole family’s brujeria needs in mind.

6. Curandera Press

While this shop is currently taking a small hiatus, they will re-launch on August 1. This gives us time to save up for a big vela haul. We could all use some divine intervention with lazy lovers and bad hair days, right? With Curandera Press’ “No Mas Amante Perezoso” and “Good Hair Day” velas, your prayers are answered. We’re excited to see what intentions they roll out next.

Read: In These Trying Times, Boricua Bruja Emilia Ortiz Provides A Digital Space For Healing

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