By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A co-inventor of the birth control pill, Austrian chemist Carl Djerassi, now says his creation has led to a “demographic catastrophe.”
In a personal commentary published in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Djerassi, 85, said that in most of Europe there was now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.” He said: “This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete.”
He described families who decided to use the pill rather than reproduce as “wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it.”
Djerassi called the subsequent declining birth rate an “epidemic” far worse, but given much less attention, than obesity. He went on to say that young Austrians were committing “national suicide” if they failed to procreate.
Djerassi, a chemist known as the father of the birth control pill, was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward development of the earliest oral contraceptive pill.
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the head of Austrian Catholics, reminded the press that the much maligned encyclical forbidding the use of artificial contraception, Humanae Vitae, warned the world 40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the west.
“Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi . . . is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we’re far away from that,” he said on Austrian television.
He also revealed that when he first read Humanae Vitae he viewed it negatively as a “cold shower.” However, his views were altered over time as the document proved to be “prophetic.”
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