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On air: Has the contraceptive pill ruined the institution of marriage?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 14:06 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

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She was a sex symbol in the 1970's and has been married four times, but now Hollywood star Raquel Welch is questioning whether the contraceptive pill has damaged the institution of marriage.

"One significant, and enduring, effect of The Pill on female sexual attitudes during the 60's, was: "Now we can have sex anytime we want, without the consequences. Hallelujah, let's party!"

It remains this way. These days, nobody seems able to "keep it in their pants" or honor a commitment! Raising the question: Is marriage still a viable option?"


Raquel Welch wrote the article to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the pill. While many women around the world will say the pill has not only brought them sexual liberation, some would say it has promoted promiscuity, others say it has driven more women into the workforce.

Dr. John Preston Parry, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says "In terms of career opportunities , it's had more of an impact than anything else. The proportion of women pursuing medical careers has gone from about 10 percent to close to 50 percent."

The Pill was never intended to lead women into the workforce or reduce the size of the average family but may people say it has done just that. Of course the pill hasn't taken off everywhere in India the take up has been low for numerous reasons.

And in parts of the world including Africa many women would love to have access to the pill but are denied. For others it has given them control over the number of children they have and stop them having children into their fifties.

Is it fair to blame the pill for failures in marriage? Or by leading more women into work, giving them the opportunity for financial independence, has it pill indirectly changed the dynamics of a marriage? And therefore undermined it?

Are there other reasons for failures in marriage, too easy to divorce? And has the pill made women more promiscuous?

We are bringing together a group of women from around the world to discuss this on today's show

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