Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: The Business of Birth Control

A campaigner holding up a packet of birth control pills

When the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), or birth control pill, was made available for contraceptive purposes at the start of the 1960s it triggered a sexual revolution for women. No longer did they have to rely on a man’s ‘judgement’ and run the risk of pregnancy every time they had sex. This newfound freedom of choice proved to be a catalyst for a wider women’s rights movement. However, that’s just one side of the story.

To say the pill has one or two side effects is a vast understatement. If you take a look at the little booklet inside a packet and it reads like War and Peace. The likes of blood clots, hypertension, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, depression and cancer are just a few in a long list. Sixty years later, feminist organisations are still trying to raise awareness of the dangers. The Business of Birth Control tackles the myriad issues around the dangers of birth control.

The Business of Birth Control investigates the history of birth control and what it has meant for generations of women, especially those of colour. Abby Epstein’s documentary tackles a number of pressing issues, weaving together stories from bereaved parents and interviews with technological innovators and rights activists. Highlighting the inherent racism and looking for a safe and ecological solution. In an area where it’s still, ludicrously, seen to be a women’s issue.

The Business of Birth Control screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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