Are We Better Off after the Pill?

Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution Mary EberstadtIgnatius Press, 2012; 171 pages, $19.95 As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s mandate requiring all health-insurance plans to cover contraception “free of charge” to women took effect August 1 of this year, Mary Eberstadt’s collection of essays Adam and Eve after the Pill is timely and relevant. Eberstadt explores the question, “Are American citizens and our society better off after the Pill?” While her insightful reflections were published as stand-alone articles in First Things and Policy Review, and thus lack unity and coherence as chapters of a book, they expound her thesis—vigorously supported by a mountain of social-science data—that the sexual revolution utterly failed to deliver on its promises, from gender equality to greater happiness for women. Given this premise, the research fellow at the Hoover Institution wonders why scholars, opinion leaders, and policymakers remained committed, in the face of all the contrary evidence, to supporting public policies that sustain a revolution that has also dealt great harm to women, men, and children. Each chapter is loosely linked to Eberstadt’s claim that the well-being of all Americans has taken a beating from the sexual revolution, with particularly notable damage coming from the near ubiquity of the contraceptive pill. Eberstadt notes that Americans, ranging from social philosophers like Francis Fukuyama to former movie stars like Raquel Welch, acknowledge the profound transformation that took place with the Pill. Although the Hoover Institution scholar overlooks the role of the Supreme Court in declaring state restrictions on the use and sale of contraceptive devices unconstitutional in 1965 and 1972, she is correct in her general assessment of the social impact of the Pill. After forty years of easy availability of the Pill, today’s generation of young women, as Claire Gillen notes in
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