At the beginning of the campaign to fund this film about the pill I tweeted “Help out if you can. This is important stuff and I’m sure that Ricki Lake will do a great job.” I put my money where my mouth is and became a backer, and then didn’t quite get round to writing a blog.
The main reason for my hesitation was I was nervous about the approach that might be taken. The film is based on the
Ricki Lake has said “We’re not trying to scare women off the Pill”. She says she simply wants to ask questions and educate women (and men) about their options. Worthy goals. And yet the trailer on the Guardian website is scary. It asks “could some birth control methods kill you?” and is overwhelmingly about the heart-rending deaths of various women from blood clots that have been linked to taking the contraceptive pill. It's important that these stories are heard but spending nearly the entire trailer on them and showing a picture of a lung filled with blood clots just before a bereaved parent says “of course we want women to have informed choice” feels manipulative.
But to be fair it is only a trailer - the main kickstarter film is much better. And the Guardian did commission a piece specifically about blood clots. I’m looking forward to this film being made and to it being good, really good. Not something that is easily dismissed as “anti-pill propaganda” or “a crusade”.
Millions of women take the pill for decades. We have the right to ask questions and to expect very,very high standards from any pharmaceuticals that we take for that length of time.
The trailer is scary but that's not the only scary thing when it comes to women's reproductive health. We are scared into thinking that we will get pregnant the moment we have unprotected sex. We are scared into thinking that when we do want to get pregnant we won't be able to. We are scared into thinking that abortion is a terrible, shameful thing rather than an ordinary necessity carried out by ordinary women.
Frankly I'd like everyone to turn down the whole scaremongering thing a notch. The most scary thing for most women is still an unwanted pregnancy in a country where abortion isn't free, safe and legal. Improving information and access to other methods of contraception might help some women avoid unplanned pregnancy but it's no guarantee. Scaring them off methods that might suit them very well isn't helping anyone.
The film is financed now so I don't know how long this link will work but here it is. I'm still supporting it - in my slightly nervous and picky way. It's not going to be an easy project to get right but I wish them well.
If you want to support an uncontroversial campaign to hold Big Pharma to account then support the All Trials campaign. They're working to ensure that the results of all clinical trials are made public, not just those that Big Pharma wants us to see. I'm looking forward to the contraception trials getting a proper airing - they might, or might not, back up everything that is said in Ricki Lake's film.
And if you want to support women's access to abortion then I suggest you donate to the Abortion Support Network (for women in Ireland and Northern Ireland) and Women on Web.
Conflict of interest statement – as you can tell from where this blog sits, I am an independent fertility awareness practitioner (trained and registered with Fertility UK). I make very little money from this - partly because I direct people to NHS and DIY options - so I have a proper job as well.