This Doctor Is Exposing The Racist Origins Of The Birth Control Pill

When we talk about the birth control pill, we rarely talk about the origins of it. But Dr. Jolene Brighten, a functional medicine naturopathic physician and author of "Beyond the Pill," wants to change the way you think about this popular form of contraception.

By Gina Florio2 min read
This Doctor Is Exposing The Racist Origins Of The Birth Control Pill instagram

We've been programmed to think that the birth control pill is the single best way to prevent pregnancy. In fact, it's routinely prescribed by doctors all over the U.S. to countless women and girls as young as 14 years old. We're told that it's the ultimate contraception – and most doctors also claim that there are no long-term side effects. Thousands of women around the country have learned the hard way that this is not necessarily true.

Dr. Jolene Brighten has made it her life's work to educate women on the side effects of the pill and how it affects women in the long run. She is the founder of Rubus Health, a women's medical clinic that helps women with endocrine health (hormonal health). Her recent Instagram post sheds light on the origins of the pill and the lack of informed consent in gynecology.

The Origins of the Pill Are Rooted in Eugenics

You've probably heard of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood who advocated for birth control to be readily available to women. But what you may not know is that Sanger was a proponent of eugenics, and she believed in separating the "unfavorable" women from society and even forcibly sterilizing them.

"We were all fed the lie that birth control was about women's liberation," Dr. Brighten said. "It was in fact about population control and especially those that were considered 'unfavorable.' Thanks, Margaret Sanger." Dr. Brighten wants everyone to know that the origins of birth control were not only misogynistic but also racist.

We were all fed the lie that birth control was about women's liberation.

Sanger argued that birth control could help get rid of “the greatest present menace to civilization” – and that menace was people living in poverty and mentally ill or physically disabled individuals. This is why she fought so hard to bring birth control to lower socioeconomic statuses. And this is why she brought the trials of the pill to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans Were Used as Guinea Pigs for the Pill

"Exploitation of Puerto Rican women's bodies is why we have the pill," Dr. Brighten said in her video. "They had no informed consent, they didn't know they were in a trial." The women who died in this trial were "just brushed under the rug."

Unfortunately, this is true. Puerto Rican women were, in fact, given the pill with no information on what they were being administered. The women who died never had their deaths investigated.

Sanger was accompanied by Clarence Gamble, a eugenicist who was the heir of Procter & Gamble. Gamble thought that poor people should be wiped out to allow for more "fit" members of society to live. Birth control was the tool to arrive at that point. He was also associated with Puerto Rico's policy that coerced women into getting sterilized as birth control.

Exploitation of Puerto Rican women's bodies is why we have the pill.

The women who were bullied into participating in this study experienced side effects like nausea, blood clots, depression, and even death. Later, Gamble was known to perform these experiments on women in mental asylums – without their consent.

This is precisely why Dr. Brighten speaks up about the origins of the pill. "I’m here to teach you to understand your body so well that you can advocate for yourself & evade the gaslighting we all know exists," she wrote in the caption of her video.

In her caption she also describes "obstetrical violence" as a woman having to "focus on how to not be assaulted or manipulated by their provider while also trying to usher a new human into the world."

"When you arrive educated & demanding better, we will see shifts happen," Dr. Brighten concluded.