Sunday, February 1, 2015

Carl Djerassi, chemist behind birth control pill, dead at 91

In from CBC, we have a good obituary of someone who demonstrates how science has tremendously changed society. Djerassi appears to have enjoyed a wide variety of interest, something less and less common in today's world, and also appears to have grown weary of his notoriety.

If some of the latest research about possible health effects from hormonal contraception is correct, than his is a mixed legacy, but like all pioneers, you don't know what you don't know, and the full picture only becomes clearer with time.

It is clear that whatever improvements may need to be made to birth control, the positive effects of his discovery, increased liberty and autonomy for women, as well as improved safety (relative to multiple pregnancies) and the opportunity to plan their lives, means that society has benefited greatly from his work and for this he deserves the recognition he's receiving. Science may not be able to dictate morality, but it does give us the tools to change our society and measure the effects.

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