Warning: Use of undefined constant editmode - assumed 'editmode' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/mspporg/sangerpapers.org/includes/docheader.php on line 49

Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control," Feb 1932.

Source: " Birth Control, Church and Society, Feb. 1932, pp. 1-2 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S71:400."

For additional drafts, see Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections, S28:410 and S71:390, Library of Congress Microfilm 128:414 and 45:378.

Voluntary Parenthood

Birth Control

February, 1932

It is the conscious control of the birth rate by means that prevent conception. Emphasis is placed n the word prevent. In preventing conception, one does not destroy life; no life has been conceived to destroy. The ovum, when it is not fertilized, passes out of the body regularly, as it does when one remains unmarried or lives a continent or celibate life. Emphasis is also placed on the world control. In controlling the birth rate or the size of the family, it does not mean one must limit births to any given number. We control our motors; we control the heat from the furnace; we control our time, our appetites, our resources, our lives. Birth Control applied to the family does not mean to limit the number of children to a one or two-child family system. It means to have the number of children consistent with and in consideration of (1) The mother's health (2) The child's possible heritage (3) The father's earning capacity (4) Standards of living desirable to maintain

The conscious control of the powers of fertility would awaken men and women to the responsibility of Parenthood. That consciousness is a growing and awakening force now developing in the human race is generally conceded. When consciousness is applied to the process of generation there will be fewer children born as the result of a reckless abandon to the hour; fewer children brought into the world unwanted and unloved; more children planned for and conceived in love; more born of the mother's conscious desire; and more given the heritage of healthy bodies and sound minds.

Why do we need Birth Control?

Because the practice is both a health and an economic necessity.

1. Health

Women suffering from tuberculosis, heart disease, kidney disease and other ailments are known to die as the results of pregnancy. There were over 20,000 mothers who died last year besides the large number of mothers who are “always ailing, never failing.” Many of these mothers died needlessly from diseases such as those mentioned, and from abortions, and would have been alive today had contraceptive instruction been given them in time. The number of deaths due to abortions each year are a blot on our civilization and a disgrace to any country. I refer you to Dr. F. J. Taussig's illuminating treatise on this subject, "Abortion in Relation to Fetal and Maternal Welfare." This article was prepared by the Committee on Prenatal and Maternal Care for the White House Conference. Dr.Taussig makes the following statements in his summary: “The increase in the number of abortions is noticed primarily among married women who have three or more children.” and “The maternal death loss from abortion in the United Stateshas been estimated as 15,000 annually. Deaths from puerperal sepsis following abortions are relatively seven times as frequent as those from puerperal sepsis after childbirth." While the practice of birth control is a humane expedient for maternal health, it is even more urgent as a means of curtailing the infant death rate. We know that this question of infant mortality has three very vital factors: the first factor is the father's wage. As it goes up, a larger number in the family survive, and if it goes down, a larger number of the children die. Second is the spacing of the number of children in a family. If children are born with three or four years between each birth, their chances are better because the mother has had an opportunity to recuperate and rebuild her health. The family income has been stretched out over the intervening period of years to meet the coming infant's needs. Statistics from our Children's Bureau clearly show that the second child has a better chance to live than the 5th and the 5th a better chance than the 12th certainly. Sixty per cent of all the 12th children born in this world are doomed to die before they reach their first birthday. Thus, about 6 out of every 10 children who are 12th in the family are doomed to death before they breathe their first breath. How much better to have a declining birth rate with a greater decline in the death rate-- fewer children born but more children to live to grow up decently and develop their God-given powers. What a waste of mother power and child life now goes on which might be put into the constructive forces of this world. A government which allows men and women to become parents whose records show insanity, feeble-mindedness, epilepsy, syphilis, pauperism, idiocy and various other transmissible defects, cannot be said to consider the welfare or happiness of the country or of the next generation. Billions are now spent on charities, both public and private, in the U.S.A. The normal and intelligent citizens are being taxed and drained and bled to keep alive an increasing horde of human beings who never should have been born into a civilized society. Birth Control should be practiced in early marriages, especially when the young people are in the adolescent period. Parenthood should be deferred until the girl is at least 23 and the boy at least 25 and they have had a chance to gain their own development.

2. Economic

Necessity The father's economic responsibilities should be given full consideration in planning a family and birth control comes as a blessing to help young fathers get on their feet financially, and keep their earning power ahead of the needs of a growing family. Birth Control should be practiced for a year or two years after marriage as a means of adjustment. Greater stress should be placed on the importance of giving marriage a chance to develop and grow into the ideal relation many of us believe possible. The young romantic bride who returns from her honeymoon in a pregnant condition never has a chance to develop the woman in her, and both are deprived of the opportunity to cement the love bond, to play, grow and expand together in mutual affection and love. Premature parenthood has made them skip over a period of development at a time and in circumstances when adjustment is essential. Two years to play, grow, develop together, will make for more permanent marriages, happier homes and larger families. There are other questions--WHO? WHERE? and HOW?--which could be answered, and are given in full in the literature available on the subject . Birth control is not a panacea for all the social and economic ills in the world but t least it is the most important immediate help which can be applied as a solution to the present problems of millions of men and women here and now. Those who are practicing birth control because they are fully conscious of the moral responsibility of bringing a child into the world are units in the building and reconstruction of the new world. They are laying the foundation for the unfolding of a vast experiment in race building never before known in the history of mankind.

Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project