The story of doctor Ferdinand Peeters (1918-1998) and his role in the development of the pill has held Belgium in thrall for almost a decade. It is time to introduce the real father of the contraceptive pill to the rest of the world.
After years of research, Belgian journalist Karl van den Broeck concluded that not the American Gregory Pincus was the inventor of the pill. His prototype had so many adverse effects that it wasn’t a viable option in the long term. It was the Belgian doctor Ferdinand Peeters who, in 1959-1960, created the first clinically applicable contraceptive pill: Anovlar. It was this pill that set the standard for all future pills to follow.
Ferdinand – Nand – Peeters was a devout Catholic and during an audience with pope John XXIII, he urged that the church should sanction the use of the Pill. But when Paul VI decided in 1968 that birth control other than the practice of periodic abstinence would remain forbidden, doctor Peeters didn’t breathe a word about his role in the development of the pill. Even his family was barely aware of it.
In The Real Father of the Pill, Karl van den Broeck tells the long hidden story behind this invention, a story of innovation and threats, of grateful women and papal ambivalence. With this book doctor Peeters is finally given the recognition he deserves.
This book includes the documentary The Real Father of the Pill. More information can be found in the book.
Karl van den Broeck is a journalist, who has worked for the Flemish newspaper De Morgen for almost twenty years as, among others, editor in charge of culture and books. From 2005 until 2011 he was chief editor of the weekly Knack. Since 2014 he is chief editor of Apache.be, a news site dedicated to investigative journalism. He is the author of the non-fiction novel Why I want to save the Indians and children’s book The bird in my hair. He lives in Turnhout, the town where Dr. Ferdinand Peeters worked and died.