Margaret Sanger, "Women's Arts and Industries Exposition Address," 28 Sept 1933.
Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 52:117."
Sanger gave this speech in New York City.
It is ever a source of feminine pride and satisfaction to witness the rapid strides made by women in the arts, industries, sciences and professions during the past decade.
Woman has had an age-long struggle to free herself from the superstitions and dogmas of the Dark Ages in order to prove her ability and to compete with man in the affairs of the world.
Nature has not been altogether kind to woman, in that she has not distributed equally the biological task of child-bearing. In this in equality we find the greatest handicap that woman has had to overcome in order to develop her talents and to express her individuality. A few of them have dared and challenged and defied the laws and canons and moved forward toward their emancipation; but in the main the larger number of women have been and still are conscripted to the task of child-bearing.
It was President Roosevelt who had the courage, foresight and vision to raise his voice on behalf of the forgotten man, and is it not time for the enlightened women of this country to raise a voice in unison on behalf of the most forgotten of all living creatures, the overburdened child-bearing woman?
Why not a new deal for the 45 million women of child-bearing age in this country whose future life, liberty and pursuit of happiness depend absolutely upon the knowledge of how to control the physiological function of motherhood?
We ask a “new deal” for the mother immortalized in poetry but ↑(neglected)↓ forgotten in fact--
A New Deal for the mother whose life is shadowed by constant fears of unwanted pregnancies--a New Deal for the mother who goes down into the valley of the shadow of death for every baby born--
A new consideration for the women who appeal for contraceptive knowledge to hospitals, clinics, and(social)agencies, and are denied this by priest and politician alike.
The solidarity of woman is as noble as the brotherhood of man, and the opportunity is here today for all of us whose lives have been benefited by such knowledge to pass that right and privilege on to the underprivileged woman who is too poor, too weak, too inarticulate to battle for her own rights.
There is now pending in Congress a Bill which, if passed, will automatically open the way to thousands of hospitals, dispensaries and public health agencies throughout the country, and will make it possible for these poor,troubled, anxious mothers to go to these institutions for medical help and to receive the proper medical advice suitable to their individual needs. Today such knowledge is refused them because of our Federal laws which were passed by Congress just sixty years ago.
The passage of this Bill will give the poor mother the right that the well-to-do mother has had for the past generation. It will enable her to obtain special scientific knowledge through the source of the medical profession, and this is the wisest and safest way to obtain it.
Congressmen will listen to this appeal when sufficient numbers of men and women make their voices heard. We learn on all sides from women coming to us to seek advice and that relief agencies in this and other cities are advising women who appeal to them for aid that they should get themselves in a condition of pregnancy in order to obtain immediate and substantial relief.
What kind of justice and vision is this--when already millions of men are unemployed and other millions dependent upon them for life and maintenance?-- What sort of vision is this to encourage the birth of children at this time of uncertainty--at this time when we know that millions are born into homes so wretched that not only are their bodies denied proper nourishment but many of them can never grasp a perception of life’s beauty, nor will they ever be able to participate in the moral or spiritual activities of our civilization.
In fact, I should say it was the patriotic duty of men and women to refrain from bringing children into this complex and confused age until there is a new code established by the Federal Government which will insure for every child born the heritage of a sound body and a sound mind.
When this is done, we can indeed know that we are on the road to permanent recovery, and then indeed shall woman take the first step toward the goal of a real emancipation.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project