09:48am Wednesday 19 February 2020

Sexual revolution incomplete – 50 years of the Pill in Australia

The University of Melbourne and the Victorian Women’s Trust will host the forum titled “50th Anniversary of the Pill in Australia: an Incomplete Revolution” tonight at The BMW Edge, Federation Square at 5.45pm.

Panelists include Dr Louise Keogh, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Women’s Health, Gender and Society at the University of Melbourne, Mary Crooks, Executive Director, The Victorian Women’s Trust, Dr Leslie Cannold, ethicist and columnist and Nelly Thomas, comedian.

Dr Louise Keogh said the Pill was invented as a way to space pregnancies for married women, but is now being used for an extended period of non-reproductive sexual activity.

“The Pill is not really doing the job women need it to do today,” she said.

“Yet it is women who personally take the blame when things go wrong – when they have an unplanned pregnancy or face difficulty falling pregnant later in life. It is time to start demanding further progress in this area, and time for women to stop taking all the blame.”=

Dr Keogh said the problem of failure rates for contraception was a concern. The failure rate for the Pill is nine percent and for condoms 14 percent and for 16 percent of the female population, health reasons hinder use of the Pill.

Compared to the 1960s, women today use contraceptives for much longer, on average 13 years before having children. 

Dr Keogh said that unsurprisingly, given the failure rates of the most commonly used contraceptives, and the length of time women rely on them, there are some alarming statistics: 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime and 1 in 5 will have trouble falling pregnant at the time of their choosing.

“On average, every woman can expect two contraceptive failures in her lifetime, and unless women are in stable relationships or marriages (and sometimes not even then), women manage the fallout from contraceptive failure by themselves,” she said.

Mary Crooks, Executive Director of the Victorian Women’s Trust says women still carry most of the responsibility for managing their fertility.

“We would like to see men play a bigger role in managing these decisions. Where is the development of the male contraceptive and why isn’t that more advanced?” she said.

The forum will address such questions as Where have these important changes taken us? Is it now easier for women to have sex and manage their fertility?

More information: 

Rebecca Scott
Media Officer
University of Melbourne
03 8344 4123

Liz McAloon
Victorian Women’s Trust
03  9642 0422

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