Bitter Pill

The Fertility Doctor
John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution
Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner
Johns Hopkins University Press, $29.95, 384 pp.

For Catholics of a certain age, John Rock’s name evokes distant battles. Popularly viewed as the “father” of the birth control pill (“stepfather” was more accurate, according to Rock), the Boston physician and cradle Catholic was also famous for a 1963 book that argued for a modification of the church’s ban on all modes of artificial contraception. (The book was ghostwritten, as it happens, by Planned Parenthood professionals, although clearly expressive of Rock’s own...

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About the Author

Leslie Woodcock Tentler, author of Catholics and Contraception: A History, is professor of history at the Catholic University of America.