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The differences the Pill has made


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Mary Eberstadt is my friend, but I'll risk charges of special pleading and self-plagiarism by quoting my endorsement on the dust jacket of her new book, Adam and Eve after the Pill (Ignatius Press): "Mary Eberstadt is our premier analyst of American cultural foibles and follies, with a keen eye for oddities that illuminate just how strange the country's moral culture has become." That strangeness is on full display in the ongoing controversy over the HHS-"contraceptive mandate"--an exercise in raw governmental coercion depicted by much of the mainstream media (and, alas, by too many Catholics on the port side of the barque of Peter) as a battle between Enlightened Sexual Liberation and The Antediluvian Catholic Church. Anyone who thinks of this battle in those terms should spend a few evenings reading "Adam and Eve after the Pill."

As the talismanic year 2000 approached, and like virtually every other talking head and scribe in the world, I was asked what I thought the history-changing scientific discoveries of the 20th-century had been. And like the rest of the commentariat, I answered, "splitting the atom (which unleashed atomic energy for good or ill) and unraveling the DNA double-helix (which launched the new genetics and the new biotechnology)." Today, after a decade of pondering why the West is committing slow-motion demographic suicide through self-induced infertility, I would add a third answer: the invention of the oral contraceptive, "the Pill."

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