College kids have always wanted to have sex. By the late 60s, they had a lot more questions about sex. They wanted to know about contraception, abortion, etc. In 1968, a group of students in Montreal, Canada blatantly broke the law by writing The Birth Control Handbook. This was one of the first pieces of sexual education literature. There were twelve different editions of it published from 1968 and 1975.
The handbook was funded by students at ten different Canadian colleges. Students at Princeton and the University of Maine also contributed.
In 1968 it was illegal to sell and advertise birth control, and abortion was punishable by life in prison. A woman had to go to the doctor and get a prescription. They also had to be married. Birth control was only to be used in family planning back then.
It was much harder to find information about contraception. Medical opinions were mostly from male doctors who were biased. You had to go to the doctor to get a pregnancy test; you couldn’t just hit the pharmacy and get one.
They combed medical textbooks and consulted with medical experts. The handbook contained details on things such as surgical abortion, sexual intercourse, menstruation, and others.
In 1970, the Boston Women’s Health Collective came out with Our Bodies, Ourselves. It became widely circulated and was eventually translated into 29 languages.
By 1974, three million copies of the Birth Control Handbook had been circulated.
We need to learn from these ladies. Sex education is considered very important for preventing unwanted pregnancies and preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
As the decade rolled on, women started demanding birth control from their university physicians.
This powerful handbook could still be used today. We have abstinence-only sex education giving our teens inaccurate and/or incomplete information. These horrible programs are leading to higher STD rates and higher teen pregnancy rates. You can read more of the handbook at this link.