NL 2005/02

Coke as emergency contraception, George Michaels (1912-1992), prepare a sheepgut condom yourself, Male sterilisation





Dear friends of the Museum of Contraception and Abortion,


can you provide us with any information or personal experience on the use of fizzing Coke as emergency contraception? It is said to be a young girl’s secret, but could be found in scientific literature only once so far: “The effervescent douche directly from the neck of a bottle of the popular cheap carbonated acidulated beverages is much used and is spermicidal.” (Robert L. Dickinson, Techniques of Contraception Control, JAMA 123, 1943)

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George Michaels (1912-1992) is almost forgotten now, but he was the person who tipped the balance in the voting for liberalization of New York State’s abortion law in 1970. His courage opened the breakthrough for new abortion laws, but at the price of his own political career.

The bill for legal on-demand abortions during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy had already been passed by the state Senate but seemed to be defeated at the Assembly: 74 Yes votes versus 74 No votes. As a 59 year old provincial lawyer and assemblyman for a catholic-conservative constituency, George Michaels personally favored a woman’s right to choose but had voted against the proposed law at the behest of his Democratic Committee. There is a historic recording in which one can watch and listen to the dramatic moment when he grabbed the mike, his hands and voice trembling. “I ask that my vote be changed from ‘no’ to ‘yes’,” he says. “I realise that I am terminating my political career, but I cannot in good conscience allow my vote to be the one that defeats this bill.”

The State Senate quickly added its approval and Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller signed the bill into law. Other states followed. George Michaels was outlawed, his law firm disintegrated and he was unable to achieve re-election after having been a valued assemblyman for five successive terms.

You can see the touching scene showing George Michaels’ courage in the video “From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion“ at our museum.

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In case you always wanted to know how to prepare a sheepgut condom yourself please read the following description from appr. 1824:

“Ordinary Condoms (Armour, Baudruches, Redingotes Anglaises) (Used to prevent venereal disease or pregnancy) are made from sheeps' intestina caeca soaked in water for some hours, turned inside out, macerated again in weak alkaline changed every 12 hours, scraped carefully to remove the mucous membrane, leaving the peritoneal and muscular coats; exposed to the vapour of burning brimstone, washed with soap and water; blown up, dried, cut to length of 7-8 inches, bordered at the open end with a riband.”

Read the full instructions at www.lesleyahall.net/condoms.htm

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Male sterilisation is a method used by only a minority of couples in most countries because the finality of the decision deters many of them. Even in the light of improving techniques for reversal, there can be no guarantee of success.

The following table gives the percentage of couples living in a stable relationship relying on either male sterilisation (vasectomy) or female sterilisation (tubal ligation).

Tubal ligation (woman) Vasectomy (man)

World 20% 4%

Europe 5% 5%

Western Europe 3% 7%

US 24% 13%


It could be much easier if cryobanks would be prepared to accept sperm from men before voluntarilly undergoing sterilisation. But for what are said to be ethical reasons, which are never explained, this expensive service is limited in almost all institutions to men undergoing radiation or chemotherapy.

In our area we know of only one institution, which does freeze sperm before a sterilisation. Look at www.airliquide-deutschland.de (> medical > services). Sperm is frozen for example at the Clinic and Policlinic of Dermatology and Allergology at Technical University Munich (phone +49/89 4140 3178 between 7.30 am. and 2.00 pm or look at www.derma-allergie.med.tu-muenchen.de > Spezialsprechstunden/Abteilungen > Andrologie)

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With a number of interesting new objects having already been donated, we are still happy to get more objects for the planned Museum of Contraception and Abortion, such as films, posters, leaflets, books, documents, statistics, devices and instruments used for contraception, for pregnancy-testing and for abortion - from past and present times, from locally and elsewhere.

You can also support us by sponsoring the purchase of objects, which otherwise we would not be able to finance.


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