Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control in Hawaii," 04 Aug 1937.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S71:950."

Sanger gave this speech in Honolulu, on a stop en route to Japan and China.


↑Press Honolulu↓

Aug 6/37

With keen reluctance, I am leaving your hospitable Islands where I have received so cordial a welcome. But my promise to several of the Chinese Medical Associations to return to complete the work begun there in 1928 and left unfinished last year compels me to hasten to China.

I cannot leave, however, without a word of comment on the really outstanding work which Hawaii is doing in giving scientific medical advice and treatment on these vital human problems of child-spacing, family limitation, and sickness and death prevention among mothers.

Quietly and unassumingly, with due consideration of the scruples of some, this work has progressed with general community approval, under the able leadership of Palama Settlement. Financed by private funds in 1931 and with the full backing of the Settlement’s strong Board of Trustees, the work of its birth control clinic has been wisely and ably directed by Dr. J. W. Lam and Dr. Muriel Cass for the past six years. Much of its emphasis has been directed to the demonstration of contraceptive methods and techniques to physicians and it has served as a center of information so that today a large number of local as well as plantation physicians throughout the Territory are well qualified to give the advice and treatment so earnestly sought after by the majority of conscientious mothers. Dr. N. P. Larsen, as medical consultant to the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, has done much to stimulate the interest of plantation physicians, so that now Hawaii as a whole is probably better prepared to receive modern scientific service in this field than [possible page(s) missing]

From intimate knowledge of hundreds of birth control clinics in our country as well as in the countries of Europe and Asia, I consider that Honolulu and Hawaii has been especially fortunate in having the leadership of the birth control movement under so strong and representative an organization as Palama Settlement and more particularly in having the birth control clinic, under a representative medical committee, a part of a medical out-patient department of a public health and social welfare institution, with its general medical, gynecological, prenatal, child welfare and venereal disease clinics.

The Ministry of Health of Great Britain in 1930 required that every one of its hundreds of maternal and child health clinics be prepared to give contraceptive advice to the mothers needing such advice. Now that the American Medical Association has officially recognized the birth control movement and specifically has committed itself not only "to investigate the various for contraception with a view to disseminating authoritative information on the subject to the medical profession, but also that the Association promote the teaching of proper methods of birth control in the medical schools", The day is not far distant, that ↑when↓ contraceptive advice will be available from physicians in America’s maternal and child welfare clinics, out-patient departments and hospitals, as it has long been in the physician's private office.

The decision of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals legalizing the physician’s use of contraceptives for general health as well as for disease prevention reasons and the acceptance of this decision by the Attorney-General of the United States has removed all question of the illegality of the use of such methods by physicians of the importation of contraceptive articles by physicians or the use of the mails. And this applies to Hawaii as well as to the mainland.

As the public comes to recognize the incalculable benefits that follow the wise and conservative use of these medical techniques as prescribed by competent physicians, for the preventing of disease, for reducing the number of dangerous abortions, for preserving the health of the mother, for increasing the happiness of the home and family relations, for bestowing the gift of voluntary parenthood and for improving the quality of future generations, the people of Hawaii will be increasingly grateful for the tremendous contribution the medical profession, both privately and through Palama Settlement, is bestowing upon these blessed Islands.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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