Emily Witt

  • Trial Blazers

    A century ago, a woman who wanted to prevent or terminate a pregnancy had to exercise ingenuity. If she was fortunate, her partner could afford condoms (and was willing to use them), or she could buy a device called a Mizpah pessary, a proto-diaphragm sold under the guise of “womb support.” More commonly, though, women douched with Lysol after sex, or, under more desperate circumstances, swallowed turpentine water, poked themselves with knitting needles, rolled down stairs, or hit their abdomens with a hammer.

    Today, better options exist. Because the hormonal birth-control pill so profoundly