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"It Takes Character." The second moral problem posed by the pills relates to the unmarried. Does the convenient contraceptive promote promiscuity? In some cases, no doubt it doesas did the automobile, the drive-in movie and the motel. But the consensus among both physicians and sociologists is that a girl who is promiscuous on the pill would have been promiscuous without it. The more mature of the unmarried in the Now Generation say that, far from promoting promiscuity, the pills impose a sense of responsibility. Formerly, many a young woman rejected premarital relations specifically because of her fear of pregnancy. Now, on the pills, she has to make the decision according to her own conscience.
Availability of the pills also has an inhibiting effect on some unmarried girls. They feel that to take them regularly, calculatingly, in anticipation of a possible amorous encounter, would deprive them of a treasured "feeling of innocence" when the great moment arrived. For some of them, as for their boy friends, an essential element in a premarital fling is risk.
In the Milk. At the high school level, it is harder to separate contraception from sexual delinquency, and the lack of it from pregnancy and possible abortion. Once a teen-ager has become pregnant, has been expelled from school, and has had either a baby or an abortion, the chances are that she will soon be pregnant again. To break the pattern, Dr. Philip Sarrel recently took 90 pregnancy dropouts in New Haven, set up special classes for them and, with their parents' permission, put them on the pill or gave them IUDs. On form, he could have expected 50 pregnancies within a year and a half. Actually there was only oneand that because a girl deliberately skipped her pills. In Baltimore, a preventive pill-and-IUD program is being carried out among pubertal-age girls in "high-risk" (slum) areas.
Such problems are not exclusive with the poor. Last week, during a private lecture at a California resort for the well-to-do, a psychiatrist asked 30 assembled mothers whether they would give birth-control pills to their teen-age daughters. Only a few said no. Most were undecided. One-third said yes, definitelyand one mother announced that she was already slipping the pill into her daughter's breakfast milk.
Health on Wheels. When Searle first marketed Enovid in 1960, it cost $11 for a month's supply, automatically limiting its use. Today, with mass production, smaller doses and intense competition, the pills are cheap enough to be dispensed to hundreds of thousands of women, either at nominal cost or at no cost, through clinics operated by Planned Parenthood and some public agencies.
One of the most effective programs is a Planned Parenthood operation in Birmingham, Ala., called Health on Wheels. The brainchild of Planned Parenthood Chairman Tom Bolding, its wheels are those of a Dodge van with its own generator. Equipped with examining table and the latest medical equipment, staffed by a nurse and a doctor who volunteers for a day's duty, the van takes the back