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The Pill permanently changed women’s age-old pragmatic calculus.With a little pharmaceutical ingenuity, the double standard relaxed its clawing grip on female humanity.As Americans settled into the new normal of open heterosexual sexuality, even more profound changes were afoot.

There- after doctors and psychologists counseled America’s women that a happy marriage was sustained by mutual sexual satisfaction.Each and every time an unmarried woman had intercourse, she risked pregnancy, and with it a limited number of unsavory life- changing options: an illegal abortion of doubtful safety, a shotgun wedding, forced adoption, or single motherhood of a child whose birth certificate would be stamped for posterity with the word “illegitimate.” With rare exceptions, all known human cultures have policed the sexual behavior of girls and women, and America, circa 1959, was no different.Before women obtained the power to control their fertility, they had compelling reasons to comply with whatever arbitrary double standard their society imposed.“A virtually fool-proof, easy-to-use, and female-controlled contraceptive having low health risks, little pain, and few annoyances does appear to have been important in promoting real change in the economic status of women.” They concluded, “The Pill lowered the cost of pursuing a career through its direct effect on the cost of having sex and its indirect effect of increasing the age at first marriage generally.” The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v.Wade provided women with even greater control of their own fertility, a goal that had eluded them while abortion remained illegal.

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