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50 & Fabulous: Celebrating 50 Years of Women’s Advances Since The Pill

New York, NY — Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, will be among the guests honored this evening at a gala in New York City celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pill, titled “50 & Fabulous: Celebrating 50 Years of Women’s Advances Since The Pill.”

The noted actor Cybill Shepherd will emcee the gala dinner. Other honorees at the gala include: Kate White, editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan; Kelli Conlin, National Institute for Reproductive Health; Jehmu Greene, former head of the Women’s Media Center; and Alexander Sanger, chair, International Planned Parenthood Council. In addition, there will be a special tribute to Gloria Steinem for her lifetime achievement and support of women’s issues. 

Planned Parenthood is being honored for the central role it played in developing the Pill and making it available to all women; for its current work as a health care provider to millions of women; and for its longtime steadfast advocacy for increasing access to affordable prescription birth control.

“Planned Parenthood has been joined at the hip with the pill since the beginning,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “So this recognition honors all the people of the Planned Parenthood community, from the nurses in our health centers to the volunteers who devote precious time and money to support our work.”

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill as an oral contraceptive. Since the FDA’s approval of the pill, the number of women who die as a result of pregnancy each year has dropped by half. During that same period, there was a threefold decline in infant deaths. The number of unplanned pregnancies has also declined.

“The availability of the pill has literally reshaped the lives of women, men and families across the country and around the globe,” said Richards. “It gave women increased opportunities to enter the workforce, go to college, earn graduate degrees, pursue careers and plan their family; the list is endless. This is one pill that literally changed the world and the way we live.”

Planned Parenthood has long advocated for access to birth control. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in 1916 and drove the research and development of the pill in the 1950s. After the FDA approved the pill, it was still not legal in all states, and Planned Parenthood won the case before the United States Supreme Court in 1965 that made contraception legal for married couples. In recent years, Planned Parenthood has led the effort to ensure that private insurers cover the pill and other forms of contraception.

Even as we celebrate 50 years for the pill, Planned Parenthood continues to look for new ways to help women take control of their reproductive health. Its latest effort is Birth Control Matters, an awareness campaign to make no-cost prescription birth control available under the new health care reform law so that all women can use the method that works best for them and to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. Learn more about the campaign HERE.

In conjunction with the launch of Birth Control Matters, last week Planned Parenthood released new polling showing that nearly three-fourths of American voters (71 percent) believe insurers should be required to fully cover the birth control pill and other forms of prescription contraception as they will be required to do for other preventive health care services under the new health care reform law.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood found that access to affordable birth control presents serious challenges to women. The survey reports that one in three women voters (34 percent) have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives. For young adult women, who are most likely to experience an unintended pregnancy, more than half (55 percent) experienced a time when they could not afford to use birth control consistently.

Birth Control Matters is just one of Planned Parenthood’s initiatives. In addition, Planned Parenthood advocates on Capitol Hill, as well as in state legislatures across the country, for increasing access to affordable birth control and promoting women’s health. Lastly, Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider. Each year, Planned Parenthood sees three million patients in its more than 825 health centers, and provides information to millions of people through www.plannedparenthood.org, which includes a widget — “My Method” — to help women select the best forms of contraception for them.  

Teva Women’s Health, the host of tonight’s gala, is a proprietary division of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., and leads the entire women’s health category with a robust portfolio of progressive, paradigm-shifting contraceptive and estrogen-therapy products.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America Media Office, 212-261-4433


October 18, 2010


May 14, 2014