May 12, 2010
Journalist and activist Barbara Seaman, who died two years ago at 72, sounded the alarm about the safety of oral contraceptives with her 1969 book, The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill.
The book caught the attention of Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., who convened hearings about the pill in 1970.
As a result of the hearings, the FDA in June 1970 ordered all manufacturers to insert information about risks and possible side effects into every package of birth-control pills — a first for any prescription drug.
The consumer health movement was born, and women began pressuring manufacturers to come up with safer pills. In 1975, Seaman co-founded the National Women’s Health Network.
Laura Eldridge worked with Seaman for nearly a decade, starting when she was in college. Eldridge, the author of In Our Control: The Complete Guide to Contraceptive Choices for Women, due out next month, says she went on the pill at age 18.
By her mid-20s, “I started having a lot of problems” — irregular bleeding, premenstrual syndrome. After trying five different types of the pill, Eldridge, now 30 and married, gave up and got a diaphragm, a device some peers find quaint.
“There are a lot of women who are not happy on the pill,” she says. “We can have respect for different methods and different choices.”