Margaret Sanger, "Russia Speech Notes," 25 Jul 1934.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 20:0717."

No final version was found.


The Law

60 years ago, there was passed in America a law which makes it a crime to send thru the U.S. Mails or common carriers– which are our express companies– any book, pamphlet or leaflet which contains information, to prevent conception, or any article or device adapted or intended to prevent conception. The penalty that is [one word illegible] under this law can be five years imprisonment or $5000 fine, or both. In this law they also include obscenity, abortion, indecency, pornography, and all other titles or acts or ideas of indecency known in the English language. This law makes no exception for scientific books, literature or for medical or scientific persons using such literature. All come under the same category, of obscenity. In this law it also makes it a crime to tell anyone thru a letter or an advertisement where such information or such articles might be obtained, and you are just as severely punished for receiving such articles or such literature as for sending them thru the mails or common carriers. This is the FEDERAL LAW.

Aside from this we have the laws of 48 States, 47 of them within certain limitations, allow Doctors at least to [ illegible] give this information orally, by word of mouth, in their private practice, also within certain limitations.

So we have a condition in which the Federal law will not allow a doctor to receive information or supplies for his patients, while the State law will allow him to [one word illegible] tell the patient whatever the doctor has found out about this subject, altho just where the doctor is to inform himself has not been considered. The consequence of this law is that medical schools and universities leave the subject of contraception [one word illegible] out of their curricula, and many doctors have received all the information they know either from lay persons or organizations, or from their patients, and not from their medical schools.

Free Speech vs. Medical Question.

When this idea first came to me in 1912 or 1913, I thot it was simply a question of the freedom of speech, and of fighting for the principle that women should have the right to information, and that it would be sufficient to give it to them in pamphlets, books, or in any way so long as they obtained the information. BUT after going more deeply into the subject and going to Holland and studying the question of contraceptive technique from Dr. Rutgers in 1915, I came to the conclusion that while it every woman’s right to receive information and instruction, that it took special knowledge of anatomy special knowledge of anatomy and physiology in order to instruct her properly. On my return to America, therefore, there was a definite division, a cleavage, and change in the movement between those who believed it was still a question of free speech and those who believed it was a question of putting the responsibility of giving the information into the hands of the medical profession, and persuading the medical profession to include the subject of contraceptive technique in their practice of preventive medicine and public health.

It was important to send out to over 150,000 Drs. in America some person who should tell them about this technique, and as over 20,000 Doctors had requested such special information from our organization, it was possible to send s physician thru the country to the various medical societies, and to make known to them how this question concerned the medical profession, in both their [two words illegible] public and private practice.

While we have instructed thousands of physicians thruout the country, and some of ht emost distinguished doctors in the country are working with us to change the Laws, we have not yet received the official support of the American Medical Association, because of the influence of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, while the American Medical Association has not gone on record officially as a whole and endorsed our work, hundreds of County Medical and State Medical Societies, as well as the Obstetrical and Gynecological Divisions of the American Medical Association, have endorsed the right and the principles of birth control, as it applies to the medical profession.

5 ↑6↓ Reasons for Birth Control

1. Parents, men and women, should practice Birth Control, and in some cases sterilization, when either of them have a transmissible disease such as certain forms of insanity, feeble-mindedness, epilepsy, and other diseases which are known to be transmissible to the offspring. 2. Women should practice contraception of the woman’s Health is not undergoing treatment for tuberculosis, or heart disease, kidney [one word illegible] disease, and other temporary diseases when the healthy is further disturbed by the complication of pregnancy. 3. When the Parents themselves, while apparently normal, have already given birth to deaf-mutes, children with cleft palates, mental defects, or children who have inherited some disease form their parents. 4. Spacing of children. There should be a period of from 2 to 3 years between the births of children to give the mother a chance to recuperate her health, and to give proper care of the child just born, and to prepare [one word illegible] herself physically and mentally for the coming of the next child that she may desire. 5. Adolescence, and Marital Adjustment. We advise early marriage but the postponement of parenthood until after the adolescent development has taken place, which in the occidental countries is from the 12th year in the girl, and the 14th year in the boy, until the 22nd of 24d year, when we believe their parenthood will be more responsible; that it will be much better for the children also if they are not born before their parents are developed fully physically. 6. Economic Reasons. Where parenthood parents have been unable to support even one child or two children, they should not increase the size of their family, often throwing the burden upon the older children in the family and making the older children take up the economic and social responsibility before they are grown, as we have seen from child labor studies. These children’s lives are dwarfed and stunted because they have to earn a living not only for themselves, but for the other members of the family, and for their parents also. Marital Adjustment.

3 Methods of Birth Control

Continence Sterilization Chemical and Mechanical Means of Contraception

Clinics Established in America.

At these clinics, we use mainly mechanical and contraceptive methods.

Many contraceptive products are coming up on the market constantly, backed by commercial interests only, and as there is no control over these products, people go to the drug stores and ask for anything they see, regardless of the condition of health, etc., and therefore it is very important that the marketing of contraceptive products be placed under control before it gets out of hand.

Attitude of CHURCHES in America.

Endorsement by the leading Protestant, groups.

Jewish Congregational Unitarian Methodist

Opposition of ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Continence no longer advocated entirely. “Safe Period”

This question could also be studied in Russia, perhaps.

Restatements of Opportunities before Russian Medical Profession and particularly medical women.

CONCLUSION

ANNOUNCEMENT OF GIFT OF MATERIAL TO THE INSTITUTE FOR THE PROTECTION OF MOTHERHOOD AND CHILDHOOD for research. Interested in knowing the results.


Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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