Film Review: The Business of Birth Control

STUDIO: BOBB Films | DIRECTOR: Abby Epstein
SPECS: | 91 min. | Documentary

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):

Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, the team behind The Business of Being Born, The Mama Sherpas and Weed the People, are back with another important and engaging documentary The Business of Birth Control.

Sixty years after the pill revolutionized women’s emancipation, there is still so much we don’t know and aren’t told about its drastic–and potentially deadly–side effects. Inspired by the book Sweeting the Pill by Holly Grigg-Spall, the film aims to change that by tracing the feminist movement to investigate and expose the pill’s risks.

With Lake serving as Executive Producer and Epstein directing, the film features interviews from medical experts, body literacy activists and femtech innovators, revealing a new generation seeking holistic and ecological alternatives to the pill while redefining the concept of reproductive justice. Some of the surprising facts uncovered include how hormonal birth control can alter who you are attracted to and the alarming lack of research that had been done to understand how these drugs affect mental health.

The most powerful sections of The Business of Birth Control are the heartbreaking stories from families that have lost loved ones due to birth control, most notably NuvaRing and Yaz, whose formulas carry a significantly higher risk for pulmonary embolisms. These families are fighting for more informed disclosures about the risks and warning labels on prescription packages.

Epstein’s direction is efficient, inclusive and detailed. Casting a wide net, she explores the racist legacy of the pill’s development, which is steeped in eugenics, its ongoing weaponization against communities of color, and the misogyny that continues to prevail in the medical industry. It makes the case that without fully understanding how female bodies work, we can’t understand how these drugs affect women. The medical industry doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to create safer hormonal contraception options or to fully disclose their effects, making it difficult to for women to make a truly informed decision about how to manage their reproductive health. That is why The Business of Birth Control is required viewing for all genders.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at