Margaret Sanger, "A News Letter from Margaret Sanger," Apr 1932.
Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S71:0430."
My recent experiences, while on a speaking tour, have shown me the extent to which the Roman Catholic Church dictates the policy of the municipal authorities in many of our cities. I was scheduled to speak in Albany, March 6th, at the Jewish Community Center. A week before the lecture, several Catholic officials tried to bring pressure to bear through the Albany social agencies to get the Jewish Community Center to rescind their invitation. Fortunately, the Auditorium belonged to the Jewish group and the Mayor was unable to revoke the license.
The same forces tried to break up the meeting at New Haven on March 8th. I was scheduled to speak at the Troup Junior High School under the auspices of the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association. Following a protest by the Reverend Joseph Mereto of Chicago, a missionary conducting a Lenten mission at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church, the permit for the use of the Auditorium was revoked at noon on Saturday. An informal protest committee was hastily formed headed by Dr. A. N. Creadick, president of the Connecticut Birth Control League. Among the many distinguished citizens who rallied to my support were Dean Milton C. Winternitz, of the Yale Medical School; Dr. Herbert Thomas, associate professor obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale Medical School; Attorney Charles E. Watrous, Professor James Wayne Cooper of the Yale Law School; Dr. James R. Miller of Hartford; Jacob Merviss, executive director of the Y. M. and Y. W. H. A., and C. P. Ives, 2nd, associate editor of the New Haven Journal-Courier.
A large delegation called at the Mayor's office early Monday morning to demand a license for the meeting. This was finally granted for the Fox College theater. In view of the widespread indignation, the opposition did not dare push the matter further. According to the newspaper reports, 2000 people were present at the meeting.
In Boston I addressed a group of medical students, under the auspices of the Lancet Club. The majority of those present were third year students; several had graduated and were doing internship, but my address was the first information on contraception that they had received.
On my West Virginia trip, it was again a story of Catholic opposition bringing pressure to bear. The result was that the Cabell County Medical Society of Huntington rescinded their invitation to me. However, thanks to the courage and fine spirit of Dr. James S. Klumpp, Dr. William Strange and others, I was asked to speak under the auspices of an independent group of twenty physicians, and the meeting was held at the Pritchard Hotel and was open to the public. Fully 1000 people attended and approximately 400 were turned away. I have great hopes that the interest aroused may shortly result in the establishment of a clinic.
I also spoke to several mining groups in West Virginia and found there conditions that would horrify us were we living in a foreign land. The women were most interested and very intelligent. The men were more silent and opinion seemed somewhat divided among them. As a result of these meetings, however, another meeting was arranged the following week by the Catholic group to offset, no doubt, the favorable reaction toward birth control that a proper presentation of the subject arouses.
The Hartford Federation of Churches went on record at its annual meeting on February 23rd in favor of the dissemination of information about birth control to those who desire it. The following resolutions were adopted, as recommended by Dr. James R. Miller, chairman of the Federation's committee on social welfare, which had been requested to make a study of birth control:
Birth control is merely one phase of the eugenic problem. Protestant faiths claim not only the right but a duty for mankind to exercise intelligent supervision over this problem. Sexual relations should be regarded as entirely natural, and sinful only as they are abused.
In our land, where free speech and free education have been made the foundation of our democracy, it is peculiarly false teaching that anyone should be denied by statute, access to any information which he may desire.
Mrs. F. Robertson Jones, president of the American Birth Control League, debated with Albert J. Shea, Hoboken attorney, on Is Birth Control a Benefit to Humanity? before the Forum of the American Legion of Secaucus. A record attendance of over 500 followed the argument with interest and asked numerous questions. No vote was taken.
A comprehensive survey of Methodism in Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester County has recently been published by the Methodist Episcopal Church City Planning Committee, and includes the results of a questionnaire on birth control. 740 laymen against 138 voted that they agreed with the action taken by the New York East Conference of the church in passing a resolution that “the law preventing doctors from furnishing birth control information should be changed.”
A Marriage Council service has been initiated by Mrs. Stuart Mudd at 1831 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. It is offered “to help young married couples, or those contemplating marriage, to a better understanding of common requisites for a happy and healthy companionship in married life--to help them avoid some of the causes of marital difficulties.” Among the distinguished sponsors are Dr. Frederick H. Allen, director, Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, Dr. Lovett Dewees, attending physicians, Bryn Mawr Hospital and president of the Pennsylvania Birth Control Federation, Rabbi William H. Fineshriber, Keneseth Israel Synagogue, Mrs. Philip Kind, vice president, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Mrs. George Bacon Wood, member of the Board of Directors, Y. W. C. A.
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