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Margaret Sanger, "What is Birth Control?," 1928.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 8:721."

Handwritten additions and deletions made by Sanger's secretary, Florence Rose.


By Margaret Sanger

What is Birth Control?

Why do we need it?

What will it do for Humanity?

Birth Control is the keynote of a new social program. It is interlocked with the future of our nation and the progress of the race.

Birth Control does not mean race suicide. It teaches the simple lesson that all children should be brought into this old ↑the↓ world of ours not by chance but by choice. It places quality before quantity. It teaches mothers and fathers to aim for the creation of a ↑perfect↓ race of thoroughbreds.

Birth Control is as old as the world. Nature’s methods of birth control are considered ruthless. Whenever there are too many people in a country, Nature kills them off by disease, by epidemics, by plague, by famine, by warfare. History records these facts. When there is a high birth-rate, there is a high death-rate.

We want to prevent such calamities. We are trying to teach mothers and fathers hygienic, scientific methods which will enable them to have ↑only↓ as many children as they can care for with loving affection--but so many:

Parenthood should not be undertaken under the following conditions:

Married people should never have children when either parent is the victim of a transmissible disease , such as insanity, feeble-mindedness, epilepsy.

When the mother is afflicted with a temporary disease like tuberculosis, kidney or heart disease, she should not be forced into motherhood.

If the children born are subnormal, no further babies should be born.

A space of at least two or three years should separate the birth of each child. This interval ↑would↓ give the mother a chance to regain her strength and the opportunity to prepare for the coming of her baby. Also it ↑also it↓ assures the child greater attention and more thorough care during the first three years of its life.

This is a way to reduce the infant mortality rate.

Babies should never be brought into the world when the father’s income is too small to provide proper care, proper feeding, proper clothing, and shelter.

Every newly married couple need a year or two to get acquainted with each other, to make sure that their marriage is not the kind that is going on the rocks ↑in which event the children always are the ones to suffer↓ . Their ↑It seems to me too that in marriage↓ love must be strengthened, their marriage cemented, before their undertake the difficult task of parenthood ↑is undertaken↓ .

We cannot measure the greatness of our country only by the sigh of the almighty dollar. You can measure it only by the health and happiness of its children.

Birth control ↑may↓ mean fewer children, but ↑it means↓ healthier and happier ones ↑children↓ .

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves of America. Help us, all of you who are listening to these words through the medium of this miracle of Science, to strike the chains from the enslaved mothers of the world!

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project