Margaret Sanger, "Editorial on Birth Control in England," Dec 1924.

Source: " "Editorial, Birth Control Review, Dec. 1924, pp. 339-40 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S70:1056."


EDITORIAL

To revisit London, after an absence of two years, is nothing less than an inspiration. From an intellectual and spiritual point of view, London to me seems almost like a fountain of youth. One's flagging enthusiasms are rejuvenated in the bracing air of intellectual freedom one breathes in there. London is still faithful to her age-old tradition of hospitality to new ideas. London enjoys, indeed revels in, free discussion. And so to go back to this fountain of eternal youth is necessary for a complete revitalization of interest and enthusiasm. I do not think this is a mere illusion on my part. English faith in the instrument of Birth Control is expressing itself in the splendid progress of the movement, exemplified in the fine organization known as the Walworth Center. This splendid accomplishment has been achieved in no small degree owing to the fact that the doctors and authorities in charge of the Walworth Clinic are not hampered by obsolete and uncivilized statutes of the type that were written into our federal and state laws in the darkest ages of our history–-under the blighting reign of St. Anthony Comstock. At Walworth any woman or man may receive proper instruction upon application to the physicians in charge. No appointment in advance is necessary. The mother may drop into the clinic at any time convenient. She then awaits her turn for advice. Due to the fact that the instruction and ensuing benefits may be shared by all, the physicians in charge are not compelled to undertake a general health examination and to find a special or exceptional cause to undertake the instruction. For this reason, there is no invasion of personal freedom and the sense of parental responsibility is encouraged instead of discouraged. It is the mother herself, awakened to this need of self-mastery and self-reliance, who makes the decision. The Walworth Clinic, so splendidly organized and carried on, stands ready to serve these mothers and potential parents, to answer their needs, instead of dictating their personal and private behavior. The work is inspiring and suggests manifold possibilities for future development. Their activities not hindered by barbaric obsolete laws, the physicians at Walworth may instruct five women in the time that our physician needs to take care of one.

The report of the work which was sent to me is illuminating. It will be reviewed at length in a later issue.

The English committee are to be congratulated for their exceptional perseverance and courage in pushing through this work. For they have succeeded despite all sorts of discouragement and lack of funds. But with that characteristic and typically British ability to "carry on" most of the obstacles have been overcome and ultimate success is assured. The initial example having proved its value and its practical importance, other clinics are now in the course of being organized. For the success of the Walworth Center, the committee in charge is mainly responsible for its splendid management and organization. This committee consists of Mrs. Fuller, Hon. Mrs. Graham Murray, Lord Gerald Westley and our friend Harold Cox. Mr. Sumner contributes the house, rates and taxes. A small fee is charged to each applicant. This fee, which makes possible the continuance of the work without doubling of expense, also increases the sense of responsibility of those who derive its benefits, since it is a notorious human trait that people never value advice that is gratuitously given.

Perhaps the most inspiring event of the visit of our vice-president, Mrs. Rublee, and myself in London was to find men and women of the highest intellectual attainments in hearty agreement with our fundamental principles. The occasion of this discovery was a brilliant dinner party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Wells in Whitehall Court. Among the guests were George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Shaw, the eminent Lord Buckmaster, one of the most brilliant jurists of Great Britain; Sir Arbuthnot Lane and Lady Lane; the great scientist and educator, Sir Edwin Ray Lankester; Prof. E. W. MacBride; the eminent novelist, Arnold Bennett; the dramatist and critic, St. John Ervine and Mrs. Ervine; that rising figure of contemporary Irish literature, Mr. Robert Donavan and Mrs. Donavan, and Mr. W. R. Salter of the League of Nations.

To know that the fundamental importance of Birth Control as an instrument of human and social emancipation is recognized by such brilliant minds, as well as by the intellectual leaders in every field of British life, has indeed been inspiration for your delegates to return to the timorous and fear-ridden atmosphere with renewed enthusiasm and fresh courage, ready to "carry on" until our compatriots awaken from their slumber and are ready to go into battle with real problems of American society.

MARGARET SANGER


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