American Experience (1988– )
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The Pill 

A documentary recounting the development of the birth control pill.

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A documentary recounting the development of the birth control pill.

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17 February 2003 (USA)  »

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Very good and informative BUT it also promotes the myth of Saint Margaret Sanger.
16 October 2015 | by See all my reviews

One of the earliest and strongest proponents of contraception was Margaret Sanger. She also was very instrumental in the process of the development of the birth control pill. So, she certainly deserves mention in this documentary. I have no quibbles about this. However, as usual, the serious flaws in her crusade are never mentioned--and this is troubling. What were the flaws? Sanger was a eugenicist and her desire to control the birth rate was not just for women's health and reproductive choice but because she thought 'those sort of people need to stop producing kids'. What were 'those sort of people'? Non- western Europeans. In other words white people...provided they were of the WASP variety. She saw blacks and many other groups as undesirables and her crusade was meant, in part, to stop these supposedly inferior folks from breeding!! How could the film never mention this? How could women's clinics name themselves after this practically sainted icon when she was such a staunch racist? This serious omission really bothered me about this television show...and should trouble others as well.

Apart from my frustration about Sanger in this film, the content is otherwise interesting and informative. I had no idea that so many commonly used types of contraception were illegal in much of the United States*--punishable by prison and/or fines! This and rest of the show was very, very interesting and reasonably well done--but a bit sloppy and that's why I'm rating it a bit lower than usual. Normally, I rate "American Experience" shows much higher.

*One woman said a totally stupid statement and I am shocked they allowed this dumb thing to go into the show. She said of Puerto Rico "...it's one of the most densely populated countries". Huh? When did it become its own country? Puerto Rico is a part of the US and has been for well over a century and its citizens are as American and anyone born in Kentucky, Kansas or New York! Duh!


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