The Inventor of the birth control pill, Carl Djerassi, died on Friday from complications caused by cancer.
He was 91.
Carl Djerassi invented the birth control pill after leading a research team in Mexico City that developed norethindrone in 1951. Norethindrone became the key component in the first birth control pill.
The birth control pill changed the way society viewed women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
After the invention of the birth control pill, Djerassi wrote his book, This Man’s Pill, in which he says that the invention forever changed the way he saw society and science.
Then, in 1969 he wrote a paper on the global impact of contraceptives. A year later, he followed it with an article on the possibility of a birth control pill for men.
“The thoughts behind these two public policy articles had convinced me that politics, rather than science, would play the dominant role in shaping the future of human birth control,” he wrote.
Many in the scientific community mourn the loss of a scientific icon.
Richard N. Zare, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science at Stanford, said, “Carl Djerassi is probably the greatest chemist our department ever had.”
He added, “I know of no person in the world who combined the mastery of science with literary talent as Carl Djerassi. He also is the only person, to my knowledge, to receive from President Nixon the National Medal of Science and to be named on Nixon’s blacklist in the same year.”
Can you imagine how different things would be today were it not for the invention of the birth control pill?
I don’t think I can.