The modern woman takes for granted the instantaneous results of the home pregnancy test. Yet there was a time – not too long ago – when finding out the status of your uterus was a nervewrackingly extended, hardly personal affair, officiated by those in no way invested in the outcome.
It’s no wonder it took one of our own kind to shake up the status quo, and come up with a way to give back some ownership over our female fate, keeping the business of our privates private business. (At least for the beginning.)
A new story in Smithsonian magazine reveals that in the late 1960s, it took two long weeks to discover whether or not your life was about to be irrevocably changed. Women had to see their doctors if they suspected something significant happening in-utero, and then, pregnancy tests were shuttled away to pharmaceutical companies for processing before any definitive answer was returned.
A freelance designer named Margaret Crane worked at one of those companies, the now defunct Organon. One day while looking at piles and piles of pregnancy tests from doctors she thought, “A woman could do that herself.” It just came to her like that.
Crane goes on to say, “People in the company told me in effect that I was evil, this was really bad, this was terrible, and I had no right to be bringing this up—and women had no right to be doing this themselves; this was in doctors’ hands.”
Thank goodness the designer had not a modicum of subordination.
The now 75-year-old persisted and in 1967, created the first prototype for what almost every woman of childbearing age will make use of, at least one point in their lives. In private. And with near-instant clarification on whether that glass of wine is a go or not.
By 1976, the first home pregnancy test, called Predictor, had won F.D.A. approval.
Of course, it wasn’t all happy endings; Crane never saw a dime from her invention, as Organon licensed its production to other companies.
But at least we know to whom we should raise that glass (real or imaginary) in homage.
Good job, sister.