As new medical advances in contraception appeared on the market in the 1960s, public opinion regarding family planning and sexual health saw momentous changes. The selected polls below offer glimpses at international opinions about sex during the 1967 Summer of Love, from majority-Catholic countries as well as the United States.
The majority report of the Papal Commission on Birth Control in favor of approving the use of the new birth control pill by Catholic couples, along with the dissenting minority response, were leaked to the press in 1967, intensifying debate on this topic among Catholics. A Centro de Investigaciones Motivacionales y Sociales (CIMS) poll of 902 Argentinian Catholics explored their attitudes about birth control, divorce, the changes of Vatican II, as well as their perceptions of various aspects of the Church and its leaders.
Birth control was also at the center of the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice Surveys conducted around the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The 1967 Philippines survey of 1,040 married women aged 15 to 44 in Dumaguete City examined attitudes about marriage, family size, spacing of children, abortion, and birth control. Women also provided extensive information about their history of pregnancies and their reasons for wanting or not wanting more children.
These polls of samples of unmarried and married women were conducted by the Gallup Organization on behalf of the Saturday Evening Post. Respondents were asked a broad range of questions on topics including sexual matters, family and career preferences, personal problems, the role of women, personal happiness, recreation, spending, education, housing preferences, worries, and marital issues. These polls provide a fascinating snapshot of women’s lives in the early 1960s.
Follow our blog series on the Summer of Love for more insights from the Roper Center archive!