How the medical profession advanced women’s rights

by Ted Bacharach, MD

The physicians as a group have been accused of many things. We have been blamed for the high cost of medical care, the depersonalization of physicians and the discontinuity of medical care.

If there was any situation in which we have performed exceptionally well but not been realized by the public, it would be in the are of “Women’s lib”.

When I first entered the practice of medicine one of the more common complaints was “frigidity” in women. Like the dinosaur this complaint has past into history. The lack of women’s rights was accepted as was a low glass ceiling.

Our gigantic strides in this field are often overlooked. The main reason for the end of discrimination against women and the responsibility of the “two income family” has been the work of the medical profession. The first step was the introduction of the diaphragm. Not completely effective in birth control it did free women to work without the same fear of pregnancy and the employer was much more able to rely on the continuity of work in his female employees. “Bra burning” was started. Further liberation and increased equality for women was delayed until the “pill” made pregnancy a controllable event.

As you can see we as physicians can take credit for at least a few things. Things such as increased life expectancy, decreased infant mortality and control of infectious diseases are only a few of the more obvious advances. Our role in “Women’s Lib” is often overlooked. Women’s rights are among our most significant advances.

Ted Bacharach is a physician who blogs at the Placebo Journal Blog.

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