Margaret Sanger, "How Nature Gets Even," Sept 1918.

Source: " Birth Control Review, Sept. 1918, p. 13 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S70:800."


By Margaret Sanger

When you have read this page, tear it out and put it into your handbag. Show it to the next crank who denounces birth control as "criminal" or "against nature."

Out of the Queens County (New York) Penitentiary comes a startling reply to the constant question: What has Nature to say about birth control?

Natures answer is just this:

Control your birth-rate in a sane, scientific way in this generation, or in the next I will control it no less effectively, but at an untold cost of money and misery.

Look for a moment at the tragic table printed below. In it you will find summed up in cold figures the misery of several hundred lives.

Thirty-one of those lives are those of women in the Queens County penitentiary. What existence must mean to them is readily guessed by the fact that they have been in prison.

Note that by far the larger proportion of this number came from families that were too large--families denied the knowledge of birth control.

Note that the mothers of the unfortunate thirty-one gave birth to 217 children. Now note also that the thirty-one gave birth to 53 children. Of these 53, only 38 survive. Fourteen of the thirty-one women prisoners have no children.

While the mothers of the thirty-one women prisoners averaged seven children each, the prisoners themselves averaged one and a fraction.

The two generations of these thirty-one families had this choice:

They could control births in the first generation or Nature would control them in the second, while society would send at least one child of each family to the penitentiary in the process.

That is Nature's answer to the argument that birth control is "unnatural." Incidentally, the crime that society committed in preventing the overburdened mothers from avoiding their load of misery, comes home hard to that same society in the cost of taking care of the unfortunate offspring in prisons and in hospitals for the insane. That sordid fact stands out like a frightful signpost from this table:

NAME NUMBER OF CHILDREN Mary None Rose 2 May 2 -- (1 dead) Clara 9 Rose 2 living Mary 1 son Freda None Sadie None Annie Single Ruth Single Josephine 3 -- (all dead) Violet 2 -- (1 dead) Agnes None Elizabeth 5 -- (2 dead) Elsie 1 Minnie 11 -- (4 living) Ida 1 Olie 1 Minnie 1 Dora None Tessie None Annie 4 Eleanor None Irene None Rose None Ethel None Bessie None Pearl 1 Ruth 1 Lily None Alice 6 -- (1 dead) Total 53 NUMBER OF CHILDREN MOTHER HAD 5, 1 miscarriage 9, 7 living, 2 dead 1 5 11 11, 7 living 4 8 4 11, 3 miscarriages 17 8 4 14 8 13, 2 or 3 miscarriages 3 (in 3 years), died in childbirth 15, 10 living 6, 2 or 3 miscarriages 7 6, 5 living 2 13, 8 living 4 1 1 13, 4 living 11, 8 living 10 TOTAL 217

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