Carl DjerassiFamily Edge has been an unwitting perpetrator of a “calumny” against one of the fathers of the contraceptive pill. That’s what Dr Carl Djerassi called reports that he blamed the collapse of the birth rate in his native Austria and elsewhere on the Pill. (See our story posted January 28)

The Austrian emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University says he did no such thing.
We based our version of the story that Djerassi had spoken out against the Pill on a report in the UK Guardian, published January 8, unaware that the report had been removed from the Guardian website after a protest from Djerassi. The Guardian published a retraction online January 26 and a commentary by Djerassi  January 27. Family Edge was unaware of both of these.

Dr Djerassi says his original article, published December 13 online in the Austrian Der Standard, was about the shift to the right among young voters in Austria, whom he accused of xenophobia and a head-in-the-sand attitude to the country’s very low birth rate. The current rate of 1.3 births per woman would require annual immigration of 200,000 just to maintain the current population, he pointed out.

He calls the assumption that he would attribute the decline in Austria’s family size “absurd”. He says: “People don't have smaller families because of the availability of birth control, but for personal, economic, cultural and other reasons, of which the changes in the status and lifestyles of women during the last 50 years is the most important. Japan has an even worse demographic problem than western Europe, yet the pill was only legalised there in 1999 and is still not used widely.”

Our comment: Dr Djerassi may not believe the pill is a major player in the collapse of birth rates in Europe, but that does not mean he is correct. One could reasonably argue that women’s “status and lifestyles” have changed in the way they have (which is not altogether positive) precisely because of what’s known in family planning circles as “effective contraception” — the Pill. We’ll have more to say about this on MercatorNet.

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet