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Margaret Sanger, "Tucson Mothers' Health Center Address," 08 Feb 1938.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S71:974."

The complete text of Sanger's speech was not found. This summary was likely prepared by her secretarial staff.


TUCSON, Arizona. At the Pioneer Hotel, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 1938

There are some basic truths which should form the corner stone of any national security. These are:

First, that the physically unfit usually beget the unfit.

Second, that the mentally unfit nine times out of ten produce the mentally unfit.

Third, that mental defectives, morons, idiots, imbeciles, are begotten by parents or progenitors whose blood stream carries the taint which affected them.

Fourth, that the birth of every defective child adds to the burden which lowers the standard of living as well as lowers the general intelligence throughout the nation.

Eighty five percent of our population have an I.Q. below that of a fifteen year old juvenile. Yet in a democracy the majority rules, and rules according to its intelligence. The burden of the hordes who inhabit our land and fill our institutions bids fair to destroy our civilization. Already they are sapping the energy and resources of this generation, and debts are piling high upon the backs of generations yet unborn.

According to a recent conference (Jan 17-18, 1938) of the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, held in Washington, D.C., it was reported that at least 35,000 infants are left motherless each year; 14,000 women die from causes connected with childbirth; 75,000 infants are still born; 69,000 infants die during the first month of life.

The report also states that the maternal deaths have not been reduced during the past twenty-two years, while the death rate from other causes has been greatly reduced.

The Birth Control Movement has been calling out for the past twenty-two years against this evil and has advocated definite means to eradicate abortion and to space the births of children so that the mothers’ health shall be restored after one birth before she is confronted with the complications of another pregnancy.

The report further states that nearly one million of the two million births occur annually in families on relief or which have a total income of less than $750 a year. It also states that the highest birth rates generally prevail in areas where economic conditions are least favorable. Of course the Children’s Bureau recommended better professional care for the mothers before or after the birth of the infant, but the fact remains that until mothers have adequate knowledge to space, limit, or control their offspring, the Children’s Bureau will continue to find the death rate of mothers unchanged.

Science has given us the means of knowledge which, when applied our problems, could reduce maternal deaths, lessen poverty, wipe out unemployment, and create a race of human thoroughbreds. Birth Control is a pivotal force in the lives of all married people. It is not only a health and economic expedient; it is a great social factor through which the health of mothers and children is conserved, and the earning capacity of the father is balanced with the number of children he can support.

“Every child a wanted child,” is our slogan. We shall never stop our activities until this ideal becomes a reality.

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project