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Min-Chueh Chang, Birth Control Pioneer, Dead at 82

June 7, 1991 GMT

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) _ Dr. Min-Chueh Chang, who co-developed the birth control pill and pioneered research making in vitro fertilization possible, has died. He was 82.

The Medical Center of Central Massachusetts Memorial Hospital said the cause of death wouldn’t be released without the family’s permission.

Chang, who died Wednesday, did much of his life’s work at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, where he rose to scientist emeritus.

Last year, Chang was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious honor that can be given to an American scientist short of the Nobel Prize.


Born in Taiyuan, China, Chang began work in 1951 on the effects of synthetic progestins on reproduction. The research, done with Dr. Gregory Pincus, a founder of the foundation, led to the development of the oral contraceptive in 1959.

The pill made it possible for millions of couples to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Chang also is credited with carrying out basic research in the 1950s into techniques that made it possible to fertilize a human egg with sperm outside the body, resulting in the births of so-called test tube babies.

Chang acknowledged the controversial nature of his work. In a 1978 interview, he told the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester that ″scientific inquiry is to increase the wealth of human knowledge. That knowledge can be used for good or bad. It’s the same as atomic energy - you can kill with it or you can harness the power for good.″

In a 1981 interview, Chang said he regretted that the pill, developed mainly for the control of a worldwide population explosion, had ″rather spoiled young people. It’s made them more permissive. But, people will abuse anything.″

Chang asserted that the pill had made possible two major sociological changes: the liberation of women and the separation of sex from childbearing.

Dr. Mahlon Hoagland, president emeritus of the Worcester Foundation, once described Chang as a ″hero villain of the pill,″ but said his work in reproductive biology ″directly benefited more people of the world than any other.″

Chang lived in the central Massachusetts town of Shrewsbury. He is survived by his wife, Isabelle Chang, a son and two daughters.