Inventor of the Pill Laments Demographic ‘Catastophe’

Inventor of the Pill Laments Demographic ‘Catastophe’ January 13, 2009

The chemist who made a key discovery leading to the invention of the birth control pill has written a commentary calling demographic decline in Europe a “horror scenario” and a “catastrophe” brought on in part by the pill’s invention.

Mr. Carl Djerassi, now 85 years old, was one of three researchers whose formulation of the synthetic progestagen Norethisterone marked a key step in the creation of the first oral contraceptive pill, the Guardian reports.

In a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Djerassi said his invention is partly to blame for demographic imbalance in Europe. On the continent, he argued, there is now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.”

“This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete,” he wrote.

Djerassi described families who had decided against reproduction as “wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it.”

The fall in the birth rate, he claimed, was an “epidemic” far worse but less highlighted than obesity.

More. (HT: Laudem Gloriae)

"If I am only now scaring you, I need to bring my A game. :-)"

Holding Hands During the Our Father: ..."
"I've lived through this in another direction: a pastor who hectored his congregation to join ..."

Holding Hands During the Our Father: ..."
"Given what some of the Father of the Church said (I am thinking it was ..."

Holding Hands During the Our Father: ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I’m surprised that nobody has commented on this yet. I’ve often wondered if the contraception industry–as part of the large pharmaceutical industry–was aware of its effects on birthrates, etc. or if they just didn’t care at all.

  • spitwadd

    They just don’t care, they will but not now they are oblivious and obtuse to the Truth.

  • Jesse

    Money overrides all concerns, I’m afraid.

  • c matt

    They care all right – about the short term profit, and are oblivious to the long term destruction.

  • It’s interesting that while a general reluctance to reproduce would generally be considered a threat to a populations survival, it is not seen by modern society as a defect in the sense that some illness that threatened an individual’s survival would.

    I suspect it has a lot to do with people not really thinking of themselves as creature, as members of the human species, anymore — but rather seeing themselves as primarily consciousnesses.

  • David Nickol

    It seems to me silly to attribute the declining birth rates in a great many countries simply to the availability of contraceptive drugs. Nobody is forced to use them (well, China, maybe — I don’t know), but in any case, I think in modern societies, people have children because they want them. For various reasons, people are postponing getting pregnant and/or having fewer children.

    I suppose the pill makes it easier for couples to control their fertility, but it doesn’t cause them to.

  • blackadderiv

    It seems to me silly to attribute the declining birth rates in a great many countries simply to the availability of contraceptive drugs. Nobody is forced to use them (well, China, maybe — I don’t know), but in any case, I think in modern societies, people have children because they want them.

    Good point.

  • David Nickol


    I hope the “good point” wasn’t sarcastic. I don’t think I said very well what I intended to say. I think declining birth rates can largely be attributed to the fact that people have any number of reasons for wanting to postpone having children, have fewer children, or have no children. Contraceptive drugs certainly make it easier to control fertility, but in the absence of reasons for wanting to have fewer children, obviously contraceptives wouldn’t be used and would have no effect.

    What would be interesting– and I think there is some research on this — is not historical data on the actual birth rate itself, but on the number of children wanted or expected versus the number of children actually born. In 1955 in the United States, the birth rate was 25 per thousand. In 2005 it was 14 per 1000. Is this because people in the United States in 1955 wanted only about half the children they were having but had inadequate birth control technology to prevent 11 births per thousand?

    If it were suddenly discovered that the birth control pill had some serious side effect, and all oral contraceptives were taken off the market, would we see the birth rate soar?

    While I think contraception has certainly played a role in the declining birth rate, I think it is attitudes toward when to have children and how many to have that are the most important.

    Although I know there are serious economic consequences of declining birth rates, I think it is strange to consider people selfish for not contributing a certain quota of children to society.

  • blackadderiv

    I hope the “good point” wasn’t sarcastic.

    It wasn’t. Contraception may provide people with a means of limiting the number of children they have, but there’s no reason to assume that it has much of an effect on the number of children people want to have. For example, a couple living in a largely agricultural society where infant mortality is high, women usually don’t work outside the home, and there is little to no social safety net is likely to want to have more children than a couple living in a society where both partners typically work, live in an urban setting, and needn’t worry about having their children support them in old age.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    You know, one conversation I really enjoy having is speaking with elderly women about their feelings about family, birth control, and what they believed before contraception became readily available. I know that I have been shocked at the numbers of women (my gym, my Grandma’s retirement community, etc), who tell me how THRILLED they were to have birth control finally. My friend’s Grandma, a good Catholic woman, said that every time she got pregnant, she would go and weep in her bathroom and fantasize about how to make “it” go away naturally. I have to think, then, that there is a huge disconnect.

    The other point I have to say after reading this article, is that the West’s population may be crashing but the world’s population is NOT crashing. He even points out that Austria will have to import people. I am led to believe then, that the concern is for a cultural group’s demise. And I think it is ok to mourn a loss of a culture, but to say that people are disappearing is just not correct.

  • blackadderiv

    The other point I have to say after reading this article, is that the West’s population may be crashing but the world’s population is NOT crashing.

    Not yet, anyway.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Very nice thread…

  • radicalcatholicmom

    “Not yet, anyway.” Probably not for a very long time because the only way for the world’s poor to access contraceptives to the point of a population decline would be to change the whole structures that cause poverty and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    Overall, I think contraception is toxic. It allows for humans to be selfish. Sex without kids? Much easier than when sex produces children, that is for sure.

  • It’s true that right now that we rare not facing demographic oblivion on a world-wide scale. If the UN has its way, that will change. The western imperialists who run it and other “benevolent” organisations of its kind routinely link development aid with acceptance of western-style medicine, especially artificial population control measures. So, native societies which have traditionally valued motherhood and children have to choose: shall we eat, or shall we preserve our culture? There is a reason that “development” usually corresponds with sharply falling birth rates … and it has nothing to do with more wealth. The west “develops” countries in their own image … using fear of hunger and poverty to force its culture on them …

  • kurt

    It seems to me that there is likely a connection between the large-scale acceptance of contraception and a desire to have less children. It seems that many who have contraceptive sex begin doing so when young – high school or college. At that time, they likely don’t want any kids. It seems that the experience would condition one to accept the notion that sex does not require that one accept its natural consequences (i.e., kids), and that one would get used to enjoying the pleasures in life available when one is not encumbered with kids. Then, when one reached the point where one starts having kids, one would be less inclined to let go of those pleasures.

    In other words, contraceptive sex seems to encourage indulgence, while having kids requires sacrifice. The more one gets used to indulging himself, the less likely one is to embrace the radical sacrifice entailed by a large family. (This argument, of course, does not deny that some do make such a radical shift. Instead, I argue that ingrained habits are difficult to break.)

  • Jessie

    Kurt – You make a very good point about how sin gradually causes us to focus on self and turn away from God. It just happens and we don’t even notice we made a “choice”.