Margaret Sanger, "Seventh International Birth Control Conference Presidential Address," 1 Sept 1930.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 130:572."

Margaret Sanger opened the Seventh International Birth Control Conference with this speech


President’s Opening Address

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored guests and Members of the Conference:--

I have the honor to welcome you to the Seventh International Birth Control Conference. It is indeed an honor and a privilege which I cherish and appreciate not only because of the attendance of so many distinguished guests who have come from vast distances to attend this Conference, but also because of the important place the idea of birth control is taking in the social program of all civilized peoples.

When one considers the world wide problems of the population question, we seem in a way like a small group, a mere handful of people battling for so mighty a cause, But while you who come here because you are in the front ranks of the birth control army seem to be small in numbers we know that the millions of men and women in all countries are looking to you to unshackle them from the tyrannical laws of their own reproductivity. You have become the protagonists of the millions of poor, hopeless, enslaved souls caught in the trap of their own fecundity, and as such you voice their wrongs and battle for their emancipation.

The last or Sixth International Conference was held in New York City in March, 1925. Since that time we have lost through death three of our oldest workers, Dr. Aletta Jacobs, Dr. Rutgers and Dr. Vickery, the beloved mother of our Honorary President. These three noble souls carried high the ideals of this cause through those years when it severely tested courage and vision, and they never wavered but proved themselves tried and true. May their work live and may we carry their dreams into practical realization.

In 1925 there were outside of Holland only four birth control clinics in the world, modeled mostly on the ideas I had obtained from my visit to the Hague in 1915, where I took a course of contraception from Dr. Rutgers and outlined the organization of separate birth control clinics.

Today we know of over 100 birth control clinics or centers where contraceptive information is being given by qualified members of the medical profession. We know of another fifty centers or departments of health or welfare work, where birth control advice is part of general health and welfare service, so that it is safe to say that there are today about 200 recognized centers where information on birth control is officially recognized and imparted. Besides these we know of several thousand doctors who have begun to give advice in their private practice, and it seems predestined that with this start already made nothing can prevent its permeation to all corners of the earth, within the lifetime of those in this room.

There may be some who wonder why we came to Zurich to hold this conference, and I’d like to explain why-- First ↑Secondly↓ , because we knew of no organizations already here upon whose toes we might tread. Secondly ↑First↓ , because of the world wide reputation of the charms of Switzerland and its hospitality. Thirdly because of its geographical location which made it convenient for so many of our friends from Germany. We had no idea of or desire to invade the precincts of this delightful country, nor to spread ↑broadcast↓ our ideas among ↑to↓ the general population. We have already been justified in our selection, for we have met with great kindness and helpfulness on all sides, and I am proud to say that we have been honored tonight by the presence of such distinguished men, representing the Zurich Department of Health (Gesundheitsamt), and the Zurich Department of Social Welfare (Wohlfahrtsamt), as Councillor (Stadtrat) Dr. Haberlin and Councilor (Stadtrat) Herr Gschwend.

We had no idea or desire to invade the precincts of this delightful country,

The object of this Seventh International Conference is to discuss freely among the workers all questions relating to the methods and technique of contraception to present facts based upon past experience and to suggest plans and programs for research. We cannot know what we need unless we know what we already have. This is in essence to be a fact-finding conference, and we shall not be concerned with nor attempt to express our opinions on birth control in conjunction with politics, religion or morals. We take it as an accepted fact that the workers in this field are already convinced of its importance. Therefore we do not need to be further converted. I ask you therefore, during the sessions beginning tomorrow and ending Friday noon to leave aside all controversial issues except those based on the experience of medical and scientific study and fact.

↑In this way only [we?] can take an accurate inventory of our work and be guided accordingly for progress in the future.↓

↑Now again I extend to you a hearty and cordial welcome to this conference.↓


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