NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A chemist who led to the invention of the birth control pill says he regrets the demographic catastrophe that has resulted from people using the contraceptive device to separate reproduction from sexuality.
Carl Djerassi, the 85-year-old Austrian chemist who was one of three whose formulation of synthetic hormones paved the way for the pill, wrote an opinion piece in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard lamenting the way the pill has been used.
Austria’s population now includes more people over age 65 than under 15, and Djerassi said the country soon will face an “impossible situation” as the working class becomes too small to support the needs of senior citizens. Each family in Austria needs to produce three children to maintain population levels, he said, but on average couples have 1.4 children.
The fall in the birth rate in European countries, he said, is an epidemic far worse than obesity, but it receives less attention.
In order to curb the population problem, Djerassi said in the column that Austrians would have to adopt quickly an immigration policy designed to counteract the effects of widespread contraception before the population commits “national suicide.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., in a 2006 New York Times Magazine article, called the birth control pill one of the most profound developments ever.
“I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the pill,” Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said. “It became almost an assured form of contraception, something humans had never encountered before in history.
“Prior to it, every time a couple had sex, there was a good chance of pregnancy. Once that is removed, the entire horizon of the sexual act changes. I think there could be no question that the pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and within marriage to a separation of the sex act and procreation,” Mohler added.
Mollie Ziegler, a Gannett newspaper reporter, noted on the blog GetReligion.org that Djerassi’s comments, made in December, have failed to make mainstream headlines in the United States.
“U.S. media tend to be a bit American-centric … but just because this story broke in Austria is no reason to ignore it here,” she wrote. “And no matter where Djerassi dropped his bombshell allegation or where he lives, how many millions of women here in the United States have used oral contraceptives and might be interested in something their creator has to say about its unintended consequences? There’s just no news justification for obscuring this story.”
Mohler, writing in a May 2006 article on his website, said some versions of the birth control pill have abortifacient qualities.
“Not all birth control is contraception, for some technologies and methods do not prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, but instead prevent the fertilized egg from successfully implanting itself in the lining of the womb,” he said. “Such methods involve nothing less than an early abortion. This is true of all IUDs and some hormonal technologies. A raging debate now surrounds the question of whether at least some forms of the Pill may also work through abortifacient effect, rather than preventing ovulation.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.