Tags: Abortion | birth control pill | inventor

Who Invented the Birth Control Pill?

By    |   Sunday, 09 Aug 2015 02:18 PM

Austrian-born chemist Carl Djerassi, who had fled Nazi Germany and arrived in the United States as an immigrant in 1939, is credited as the inventor of the birth control pill.

He died in San Francisco in January 2015 at the age of 91.

The New York Times said that while Djerassi is called "the father of the pill," he worked on compounds as a part of a research team that included Dr. George Rosenkranz and a student assistant, Luis E. Miramontes. The pill's patent includes all three names.

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Wrote the Times: "Scientists had long known that high levels of estrogen and progesterone inhibited ovulation. But synthesizing them from animal or plant extracts had proved expensive and ineffective for use as oral contraceptives."

The trio of researchers created a breakthrough synthesis in 1951 of the progestin norethindrone, that was cheap and also worked in an oral form, the paper added.

But it was not until the 1960s that another group of researchers, including M.C. Chang, Gregory G. Pincus, John Rock and others, helped to bring an oral contraceptive to market, revolutionizing women's control over family planning and also sparking many ethical debates, the Times noted.

The invention made Djerassi wealthy and he spent much of his life lecturing about it, even as health concerns including fears of blood clots, were raised.

“Yes, I am proud to be called the father of the pill,” Djerassi said in a 2000 interview with The Guardian. “But identifying scientists is really only a surrogate for identifying the inventions or discoveries. Maybe it is true that Shakespeare’s plays would never have been written if it wasn’t for Shakespeare. But I’m certain that if we didn’t do our work, then someone else would have come along shortly afterwards and done it.”

Djerassi finished his academic career at Stanford University after working at several U.S. universities.

His students were fond of him and said he helped to encourage and promote their work, Newsweek reported. He was known for hosting weekly dinners at his home where he delighted diners by carving chocolate from a giant wheel he'd brought from his native Austria, the magazine said.

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He wrote novels and plays in the later years of his life and spoke of his love for the arts.

“He was extremely proud of the fact that in his 60s he really shifted from being primarily a scientist to being primarily a writer,” his son Dale Djerassi, a filmmaker, rancher and private investor, told Newsweek.

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Austrian-born chemist Carl Djerassi, who had fled Nazi Germany and arrived in the United States as an immigrant in 1939, is credited as the inventor of the birth control pill.
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2015-18-09
Sunday, 09 Aug 2015 02:18 PM
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