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Margaret Sanger, "Population for Peace," 1959.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:991."

This article was likely drafted for Sanger, possibly by a Planned Parenthood of America staffer, for Reader's Digest. No published version was found.


(or Peace Through Population Planning)

Less population will bring less war. Fewer people mean more Peace. Leaders of Asian nations have learned this lesson. They are acting on this belief, voluntary agencies, scientists, teachers, and government officials, all are responding to the message of birth control. Prime Ministers Nehru of India, and Kishi of Japan are in the forefront. They are making population limitation part of National Policy. Birth Control is one of the basic health services provided officially by the Health and Welfare departments. The ministers of Health and Welfare are setting up programs all over the nations to see that such knowledge and service reaches all the people. The Government Budgets include funds appropriated for carrying these birth control programs for peace and for health. [Statistics here from Asia, India, Japan, etc.]

Straggling along behind, our United States is coming finally to realize that population limitation must be a part of our national policy, as well as of world policy. Birth control must be one of our fundamental public health services, Federal and State. Strangely, we find our government authorities coming to this understanding through “the back door.” Only by seeing the need and activity about this program for peace in Asia, have our national leaders been awakened. The recent Draper report to President Eisenhower climaxed the situation by recommending that population limitation and birth control information and aids should be given as part of our foreign aid to nations around the world. Our Foreign Aid program is intended wholly to promote peace, to prevent another war of atomic proportions. This Draper Committee, outstandingly staffed, recognizes and reports that Peace depends upon Population Limitation. Still, the language of American officials is “sneaking”, with “weasel words”, because to the shame of progress, the pressure of Roman Catholic Hierarchy keeps officials from forthrightly using phrases Birth Control and Population Limitation.

The shortsightedness of fanatic Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States of America is the sole remaining block to the worldwide use of this path to peace, birth control. The Roman Catholic members do not fight the program of contraception. In fact, Roman Catholic church members use the birth control devices and contraceptives just as much as do Protestants and Jews. Roman Catholic members also use the Roman Catholic Official method of (unreliable) “safe-period”, or so-called rhythm. Even many of the United States Roman Catholic Priests, and a few Bishops do not object to the use of modern, effective birth-control methods. But when the Archbishop and Cardinal level is reached, comes the fanatic clawing tooth and nail against the apparent truth that contraception must be used to bring Peace in the World in our time. Even among Cardinals in other nations, we have not found such short-sighted interference with the practice of contraception among non-Roman Catholics as exists in this country, at the Federal level, and notably in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

On some occasions I’ve been told by some high in the Councils of the Roman Catholic Church outside the United States, that the Roman Catholic authority at the Vatican would be ready now to modify its official pronouncements opposing birth control and population planning because the Roman Catholic authority there is realistic and aware that Peace can come only through Population control. The informants have told me their hands are tied, however, because the Roman Catholic Archbishops and Cardinals of the United States stand flatly against such a change! The group in this country is small, but its unenlightened thinking on this subject is extra powerful at Rome because it gathers to the coffers of the whole Roman Catholic Church the largest money contributions in the world.

So the blight on progress towards Peace--that we see in the United States so vividly closing over Connecticut and Massachusetts--because of the Roman Catholic domination, also spreads out into the world by holding off the Agenda of the United Nations and its agencies, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agricultural Organization even any discussion of birth control and population limitation. The United Nations cannot become an effective organ for Peace until it can take into consideration and action population planning programs.

Our United States government must decide soon to act on the recommendations of the Draper Report, to give contraceptive aid as an essential part of foreign aid to peace. We must give birth control training, advice, and materials as a service to Peace and a service to Health. We need to set the example for our friends in Asia, and not keep trailing behind them. We must make birth control and a Population Policy part of our own Health and Welfare Department services, and part of our own National Policy. We must press for United Nations adoption of population limitation and contraception as a part of world policy. Only by such honest, clearly expressed action can the United States be a true leader for Peace now.

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project