Margaret Sanger, "Testimony Before the United States House of Representatives on H.R. 5978," 18 Jan 1933.
Source: " Birth Control Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary United States House of Representatives Seventy-Third Congress Second Session on H.R. 5978 (Washington, 1934), pp. 6-9, 230-238 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C15:883."
The following is an excerpt from the hearings, including only Margaret Sanger's testimony and the questions she responded to.
Mrs. Sanger. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, in the brief time allotted to me, I simply want to discuss the effect of this law as it stands today on the various institutions and upon women receiving contraceptive advice which they may receive legally in their various States, and also to tell you just what this bill proposes to do, what it will do as we see it.
The law today is directed entirely to the United States mails and to common carriers. It makes it a crime, punishable by 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine, to send any information, printed or written, through the mails, or to send any devices that may be designated for the prevention of conception.
Please do not misunderstand us as to our position on the present obscenity law; we want those provisions as to obscenity to remain, and we only have an interest in the present law to the extent that it deals with the prevention of conception.
We believe, that this question of receiving contraceptive information should be the woman’s right, that it should be the mother who should have the right to receive information, but we believe in limiting who should get it. That is the difference.
We believe that the doctors who have a knowledge and understanding of anatomy and physiology should be the ones to dispense, to give out that information, but today there is no exemption in that law for anyone, for it says that no one shall give such information. It does not exempt scientific books or medical books, and while there are scientific and medical books sent though the United States mail, there is no reason why there should be, if the law is really enforced.
The law also says that anyone who tells anyone else where such information bay be obtained is also guilty under the law. Now, this condition means that there are 47 States in which a physician may give information as he sees fit, with the exception of the New York State Law, where he can give information only for the cure or prevention of disease, but most of the other States allow the physician (who would naturally give this information orally) also to give any device that may be necessary for the woman to prevent conception. There are 157 clinics that are legally operated for birth control throughout the country, and yet the physicians who have a right under their State laws to advise these women in these clinics have to bootleg their supplies from New York or Chicago, or wherever there is a concern providing these articles, in order properly to give the advice to their patients which is legal under their own State laws.
That is the situation that we are trying to change; and, furthermore, while the mothers in the States have a legal right to obtain information from their physicians if they know where to go for it, they cannot know of it because there is no way of letting them know about this, and yet they may really be next door to a birth-control clinic, what good does it do to those particular women? They will write to me, or their nurses will, or someone, asking where it can be obtained, and we subject ourselves to the law by merely sending the woman the address of a qualified physician or legal clinic, a physician or a clinic that has been qualified in her own State to give her that information.
It seems, and it undoubtedly is, an absurd situation, and we are trying to change the law so that persons, especially those persons who have the right to have such information, may be able to obtain it properly.
There are in the country today, 26,170,756 married women between 15 and 49 years, of the child-bearing age. Now, it seems to me, and I honestly believe, that every adult, normal woman not only wishes to have children, but has a responsibility toward those children, toward bringing them up. Those women that want to do well by them, and in the last few years I have received over a million letters, since I have been in this work, and nearly every one of those letters the mother says: “Yes, I love children, but I want to give them a better chance than I have had.”
For example, here are just two of the letters, to give you an idea why we feel as we do about this--and I consider that these women are really the forgotten women of this Nation. No one knows much really about them. They are ignored. They are not given the consideration that they should have. They may have their children’s teeth taken care of in clinics, or their childrens’ adenoids removed in hospitals, and the children may have free lunches at the schools-–all of these considerations are given to them, but when it comes to this particular question, when a woman say “Doctor, what can I do so that I won’t have any more? I have enough. My husband is out of work, and he is sick, and the last child that I have had is not very well; give me a chance”, there is this peculiar atmosphere created about this, as if it is something horrible that she is asking for, and her request is refused.
Here is one letter:I just passed my twenty-first birthday on August 10. I am already the mother of 5 children, the oldest 6 years of age and the baby 3 months. My husband has been out of work for over a year and a half now. We would have starved long ago but for the relatives, who among them gave us $5 a week. It is awfully hard to live like this, and my husband was so blue when he found out I was that way again that he wanted to go to another place. My children are well, but I am awfully weak, only weighing 90 pounds. I do all of my work, and if I could get some consideration and not get any more babies, I would be happy and so would my husband. Won’t you do all that you can and give me the advice that I need?
That is the type of letter that I have received nearly a million of – in fact, over a million, because I stopped counting them when we got to a million.
Another letter states, and I would like to analyze this with you:I am only 34 years of age, and I have given birth to 12 children, only 3 of these being alive. They died so quickly after they were born that it seems that they did not have much strength to live on. My husband is a good, hard-working man, but the most he made is $1.50. We are poor people, and the coffins of the last three have not been paid for yet. It is hard to see them go like that, but if I had not had any more for a while, I could keep the three that I have got.
That woman is 34 years old. She has not finished with child-bearing yet. She has perhaps 12 years still to be anxious about more children that she cannot take care of.
Now, 12 times that woman has gone down into the shadow of death, to bring forth three living children for the State. When you analyze this, as to what it means, it means that that woman was in pregnancy 9 times for those dead children, and it means 8 consistent years, night and day, in this state of pregnancy for 9 dead children.
It is barbaric. It is not civilized for this woman to ask advice and not be able to get it. It is absolutely unfair that she cannot be told what she wants to know.
If this woman asks me to do for her pigs to make them fatter, or if she asks me what to do with her cows so as to get more milk, or if she should ask advice about her chickens, so that she could get more eggs, we could sent to the Department of Agriculture, and Uncle Sam would give her so much literature that it would take her the rest of her life to read it; but when she says, “What can I do to prevent having more children that are born dead, or that do not survive”, we have to ask ourselves if we want to put ourselves in jeopardy and be subject to a $5,000 fine or 5 years imprisonment in order to tell her what she asks.
My position is that I would not want to send through the mails any device, or any information for that woman, but what we do want to do is to tell her where she can go so that she can get proper information in her own community. We do not want to use the mails to give that information; we want the physicians to have a right to give the information and to get the materials from the manufacturers, and they, in turn, can give information wherever they see fit under their own State law.
We have found that all women differ in the advice given. We have a clinic in New York where we had over 35,000 women who have come to us in the last 6 years, and so we know what we are talking about. We know whether these things are injuries, or bad, or whether they will cause cancer of sterility. We know. We are not guessing anymore.
As I said, we know that women differ in their physical needs, and that there is no particular means or method that will suit everyone. Women who have had a large number of children, and had good care, are in a different physiological and gynecological condition than women who have had no care, and so it is important for these women, if we are going to protect them, not to act in a hit-or-miss fashion on this. If a woman’s life is in jeopardy, we should give her the best scientific information for her protection.
So, for those reasons, we make this information individual, just as individual as having eyeglasses fitted to the individual’s eyes.
So we want this in the hands of the medical profession, where it properly belongs, and I ask you to consider this bill favorably for the sake of these millions of child-bearing women, women who have to consider themselves for the future and who have to consider their children for the future. [Applause.]Mrs. Hepburn. All of this applause, as the chairman said, is taken out of our time. The next speaker is Dr. Bossard, of the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Sociology.
The statement by Dr. Bossard and the Resolution from the American Medical Association were omitted by the MSPP editors.
Mrs. Sanger. Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee, it must be rather confusing to you to hear so many statements, misstatements, overlapping of evidence, as has been given to you in the past 2 days.
We have had the introduction of the amendment, but I want to tell you that in approving this bill about a year ago, I believed that those who opposed it, especially the Catholic organizations, should be interviewed, and that it would be a good thing to submit this bill to them and to see just where we could get together on the bill.
This bill was drafted, gentlemen, with the advice of the physician recommended by the national Catholic Welfare Council and that physician considers this a good bill, and he was the one referred to me by this organization.
There was a question asked about the condition in England relative to birth control, and I would like to give you this. In July of 1930 the government in England issued a memorandum to all public health authorities informing them that birth control information might be supplied on medical grounds to women in attendance upon the maternity and child welfare centers, so that today in England all maternity and infant welfare centers are allowed to give this information.
Then the League of Nations has officially recognized contraception and abortions as problems of public health. Under date of October 15, 1931, the health organization of the League issued a report on maternal welfare and the hygiene of infants of free-school age; and on February 1, 1933, the Council of the League of Nations adopted the report in its amended form. I would like also to submit for the record the report of the League of Nations recommending contraception in the various health center throughout the world.
Now, there is one other point that seems to me very interesting, and that is that it may seem there has been a great deal of warfare practiced between the people who oppose the bill and we who propose it, and that the people who have come here to oppose this bill are at the north pole, and we are at the south pole; but I beg to inform you that is not true.
There is a book that has recently bee published by the Latz Foundation called “The Rhythm of Sterility and Fertility in Women.” This has been published with “ecclesiastical approval”, and this has been recommended by all of the Catholic societies and Catholic publications.
Mr. Healey. May I ask when you consulted with the representative of the National Catholic Welfare Association?
Mrs. Sanger. A year ago.
Mr. Healey. Who was that; do you recall his name?
Mrs. Sanger. Colonel Toy, who represented our organization, went to see both of these gentlemen who are present here, and also Father Ryan, and we were recommended to see Dr. Mundell, who appeared here this morning.
Mr. Burton. You were not recommended by me to do that?
Mrs. Sanger. We went to him on that recommendation.
Mr. Healey. What did you do?
Mrs. Sanger. We went to see him and found him very sensible.
The Chairman. You may proceed.
Mrs. Sanger. The particular thing in this bill that seems to be objected by Father Coughlin is the phrase, “by any physician, or by his direction or prescription.”
I don’t quite understand what he means, but if Father Coughlin or those opposing this measure want to take that phrase out, “or by his direction or prescription”, I can’t quite understand why, but if they want to take that out, it can be done, but at the same time they are talking about the control of these contraceptives that are flooding the country today. I believe the only way that contraceptives can be controlled is when this dissemination of information and appliances is put in the hands of the medical profession where they rightfully belong.
Mrs. Norton brought in this morning the suggestion of commercial activity, I believe it was Mrs. Norton or Mrs. McGoldrick, intimated that we are associated with commercial firms, or with some of the manufacturers who are bringing forth these contraceptives. I don’t mind telling you that a year ago I was offered an immense sum of money, nearly a quarter of a million dollars, if I would speak on the radio for a firm that has a product that is perfectly legitimate, it is not a contraceptive, but I thought that people listening in might think it was a contraceptive, and I refused that offer.
We have had numerous offers during these many years, and at no time has any of us been associated in any way with any manufacturer of any kind whatever. This is not a commercial concern, we are not interested in that part of it, we are only interested in trying to see, so far as our research is concerned, what can be done, and what can be found to be effective and helpful to the vast millions of women who are seeking advice on how to limit their families and limit them safely.
Here is a copy from a clipping from a paper called the Western Catholic, dated February 17, 1933, published in Quincy, Ill., which mentions birth control by the so-called contraceptives, which say:We have received many inquiries about the remarkable book by Dr. Leo J. Latz on national, rational, safe birth control as a potent means to combat the hideous, horrible, unnatural vice of contraception. This remarkable book published by Dr. Latz, of Chicago, Ill., should be read by confessors, physicians, editors, preachers, nurses, social workers, etc. Send us a new subscription for the Western Catholic, and we will send you a free copy of this great work.
So, the racket is not all on one side. If we are going to have a racket, let us look at it squarely and take our share of the responsibility.
To me it is a very dangerous thing to put out a book like that, when the physicians and the scientists of the country do not by any means agree that there is a safe period for all women, as Dr. Willson has suggested to you.
Now it comes down to a safe device or a safe period, and that is just about where both sides are now. I can read to you out of this book, “Rhythm,” answers to everything that has been said here. Out of this book comes answers, and I will take up your time to read at least some of them. It states here that Catholic doctors are not in agreement as to the serious physical consequences of contraception, and the answer is that they are by no means in agreement on this, and I would want you to understand, they agree that the consequence of over-child bearing and the consequences of prolific child-bearing are to a certain extent a greater cause for worry and anxiety than the point of contraception.
That is right from this book. There are many of these questions that should be answered, and they have been answered here in this study of the Rhythm.
Father Coughlin in his statement yesterday gave us to understand he is Irish, and I am Irish myself for many generations back, and I know how charming such a personality can be, and how facetious it can be, too, when it is coupled with a medieval mind. I think Father Coughlin should study up a little bit on Malthus. Malthus did not coin the words “birth control,” but he believed in late marriage and continence until such a day when only a few children could be conceived, and that was the time they should be married, when they had decided how many children they could economically take care of.
Father Coughlin also said it is our duty to increase and multiply, and he quoted the Bible, and he said that today, “we, believing as Catholics that marriage was invented by God for the primary purpose of propagating children.” This was rather humorous to me, that he a celibate, never knowing the joys of fatherhood, could come here and tell us to increase and multiply. It seems to me if that is the word of God, certainly he should be on the job.
It was brought up about Holland; I think Mrs. McGoldrick or Mrs. Norton said the laws of Holland had been rescinded. But that is untrue. Let me explain what Holland has done. Holland had gone far on the way to the practice of methods of contraception. Back from the time of 1878, physicians of Amsterdam were concerned about this question and they formed clinics in Holland, and it is an interesting thing, if you will look at the facts and statistics to see that Holland right through for the past 50 years has had a low birth rate, and has had a low infantile death rate, but has had a higher survival than any country in Europe, and has the lowest death rate in Europe, and three of her cities have the lowest infant mortality of any country in Europe.
About the time of the World War Holland had a perfectly open law. I myself learned the technique of contraception at The Hague in 1914. It was not necessary to be a trained nurse, or a doctor, but anyone old enough to be married, by the laws of the State could receive or give such information or instruction. During the war there was amendment of the law to the effect that articles of contraception should not be exposed or exhibited in the drug stores, and that is as far as that law has been rescinded; otherwise, it is the same as it was.
In our clinic, where many Catholic women come, we have all due respect for them, and all due respect for everyone who has an opinion, whether religious or moral. We know that this bill is not mandatory, it is not asking those opposed to do anything different than they do today. It is permissive legislation we are asking for.
There are twenty or twenty-one million Catholics in the country, and there are about a hundred million other people who are not Catholics. It seems to me there is no reason why any one group should impose their will upon the rest of the country, whether it is their moral or religious or their political ideas.
I think you should know, as we have found, that women who come to our clinics average just about equal. We have had 35,000 women in one clinic in New York City, and there are over 150 clinics throughout the country; and every one of them reports the same thing, that there are about one third Catholic, one third Protestant, and one third Jews, so that they run about even.
I have myself had the most pathetic cases of Catholic women torn by their loyalty to the church and their desires to control the size of the family. They have exactly the same problems every other woman has, except it is a greater hardship on them not to be able to have religious sanction of the thing they feel they should do.
To give you briefly a picture of the thing, we find there are two groups of people, on one side you see the people who practice birth control, and control the size of the family, and then the other group who have not done that, not because they do not want to, but because they cannot get the information, and have to resort to operations. Look down among our own friends and see what you find, you find in one group under average conditions today, if they control the size of the family, you will see the highest percentage of health among the women and the lowest percentage of mortality. There may be only two or three children brought into the world, but more is done for those children; then their mothers are able to participate in public life and help bring along the general progress of our civilization, and do not neglect their children either.
I find that those engaged in our welfare and social activities and most of our culture activities come out of that group. It is they who are paying the highest taxes, and paying in philanthropies for the other group.
My experience as a nurse in New York brought me into this. I was a member of a large family, 11 children, and my mother died just weeks after the last one was born. I maintain if she had had some knowledge of birth control she would not have died; but they say, in that event, I would not have been born, and maybe some of you would not be sorry. Nevertheless, if my mother had had some knowledge of birth control, she might have been alive today and able to take care of the children, which she could not do.
In my practice as a trained nurse I found women were trying to find some methods by which they could limit as well as control the size of the family; where should they go? They asked each other. It was a sort of common gossip about this or that. They go to the hospitals, dispensaries, and public agencies, and always they are refused when it comes to asking for this particular kind of information.
One women would ask me what to do; and they say, “You give it to the rich; they get the information; why must we bear the burden? You see what I have got, how many children I have got; my husband is a good man, we are trying to do the best we can for the children; won’t you help me?”
I came to this movement after one case I had, the last one, who died with septicemia. We had worked very hard with her; it was on the East Side in New York, on Grand Street, in the summertime; the doctor worked hard on her, and we finally brought her back to her home and the doctor said, “Now, young lady, you don’t go through this again, or don’t call me in.” She said, “Yes; what shall I do?” He said, “You tell Jim to sleep on the roof.” We left that woman with that kind of advice after she had gone through an operation and nearly died.
We went on, went on our way, irrespective of what happened to her, and within 3 months I was called back to that case. The doctor was there ahead of me, and that woman had not been able to survive, she had gone through another operation and she had no resistance, that woman passed out leaving a frantic husband with two little children.
I went home that night, gentlemen, away back in 1912, and I decided then and there that life was not worth living in this country unless we could give back to society some of the benefit of our experience. Of course, we had no idea what we would get into with such a decision, but we then found the Federal law which had been on the statute book since 1873. We asked the physicians, and they shook their heads.
Mr. Kurtz. Pardon me, I would like to ask this question. Is there any reason why you or the physician in the case referred to should not have given to that lady the necessary information for her protection?
Mrs. Sanger. Today she would get it if her doctor happened to know it.
Mr. Kurtz. Why didn’t she get it then?
Mrs. Sanger. Because in the first place I knew practically nothing about it. I was a mother myself, but I knew nothing about getting the information, and the doctor assumed there was a law against it.
Mr. Kurtz. The New York statute did not prevent him from giving it.
Mrs. Sanger. Quite right, but they didn’t know it. The New York State statute was never constructed, and in fact, some of us went to jail to get a decision on it. It is only under that decision we are operating today in New York, in all the clinics.
This law as we find it, affects the United States mail and common carriers. Someone asked about a physician prescribing by mail, but a physician needs to get proper information of newer means and methods, he needs to exchange with other physicians, clinics, laboratories, and so forth, through the United States mails. As it is now, as one of our physicians testified yesterday, the medical publishers do not want to jeopardize their liberty under such conditions of law. This book here, Rhythm, is going through the mails, not by right, but by privilege, and it gives illegal information just as any other book I might write on preventing conception.
Mr. Healey. Can you differentiate somewhat between that? One is an interference with life itself, isn’t it?
Mrs. Sanger. I beg your pardon, not any more than information in this book is.
Mr. Healey. The method you advocate is an interference with life?
Mrs. Sanger. It prevents conception, it is not an interference with life.
Mr. Healey. It does interfere with it.
Mrs. Sanger. So does anyone remaining single; so does continence.
Mr. Healey. You are not opposed to continence?
Mrs. Sanger. No; I am not.
Mr. Healey. That does not in any way oppose the policy you advocate here.
Mrs. Sanger. No; I am not opposed to that, and I am not opposed to this book, if we can find a safe method. We are coming down now, not to a question of principle, but a question of methods. We have no objection whatever to this. We say there are three methods of preventing conception, continence, sterilization, mechanical method, or chemical means of contraception. One group believes in mechanical or chemical and the other group believes in continence, and this book, I feel it will do harm to send it though the mails until there is a study made of it. Possibly, if it were found there was a safe period, it would have to be the physician who advices the patient as to her safe period.
Mr. Celler. You have read that book; doesn’t it say that study would indicate there is a safe period, or does it give a full guarantee there is a safe method?
Mrs. Sanger. It gives a calendar which shows the date exactly of the variations of the menstrual cycle. Here is one of the little ones with those dates and the concept calendar.
Mr. Celler. Is the language all through the book indicative of absolute assurance to the reader, or are there no qualifications whatsoever in the book?
Mrs. Sanger. No more than we give with our contraceptive. It depends on the individual, I would say, and the doctor to advise her, but if I picked up that book and read it and believed as a Catholic, and saw an ecclesiastical approval, I would follow it to the letter.
Mr. Celler. Insofar as the ecclesiastical feature is concerned, I don’t know whether the people who read it pay any attention to the ecclesiastics in the book; that has nothing to do with the scientific fact.
Mrs. Sanger. No; I am not intimating that.
Mr. Celler. What I am trying to get from you is whether or not the author of that book has made the absolute declaration that there is a period in which there can be no conception.
Mrs. Sanger. Yes.
Mr Celler. Without any qualification?
Mrs. Sanger. Without qualifications, it gives the definite statement. They tell you exactly when you period of sterility starts and when to depend on the period of fertility.
Mr. Healey. There is not anything in the book, no method prescribed, that would interfere with the natural laws.
Mrs. Sanger. If we are going to argue natural law, it is something different. I will say if there is a period of sexual sterility and a day when nature makes a woman sterile, it is most likely that is the time she would repulse the idea of relationship, and so far as any natural law is concerned, I think that is the period to stay away.
Mr. Celler. That is your viewpoint, or medical opinion.
Mrs. Sanger. It is my opinion.
Mr. Celler. You have no medical opinion to back it?
Mrs Sanger. Yes; I have some of the world authorities that claim that is true.
Mr. Celler. That say that period of sterility would be the time when there would be a repulse on the part of the woman?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes; when nature sort of closes the door toward this attraction.
The Chairman. I want to get clear the thing under consideration and discussion. It is you contention that the difference between your position and the position of the opponents is to be found only in the method to be used?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes; we both have the same principle.
The Chairman. In your case, the purpose would be to have the relationship without the possibility of conception. Is that your contention?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes, that is my contention. We are both together on the principles, and we separate the question of methods.
Mr. Celler. Don’t you separate right here, in the case of that book, there is nothing done to interfere with the natural results of sexual functions, but you advocate the introduction of foreign substances by your chemicals or instruments seeking to prevent the natural result of the sexual function?
Mrs. Sanger. Not of the sexual function, but of reproduction.
Mr. Celler. Isn’t that where you and the author of this book, whoever he is, differ?
Mr. Sanger. There is nothing in the book which gives contraceptive information as to chemicals or devices and they object very strongly to them, but they agree to our contention that children should be spaced and women should not have a large number of children. We say there is not a safe period, and if there was, we would gladly accept it and say blessings on you for advocating it. But we claim that in the meantime we should have the right to use our knowledge as we see it, just the same as in eyeglasses or other things individually advised.
Mr. Celler. But you must agree you are interfering with a function of the human body.
Mrs. Sanger. There is quite a difference, but I am talking about the question of the mechanical means toward the preventing of conception.
Mr. Celler. You don’t interfere then, you refrain.
Mrs. Sanger. In this you don’t refrain.
Mr. Celler. In that book there it is said there is no outside interference with the natural result that would come. This physician says there is a period when there is no possibility of conception, but there is no outside interference.
Mrs. Sanger. As far as conception is concerned, in the method we advocate, by the use of the contraceptive, the ovum is not fertilized, it passes out of the body just the same as if she had never used one. We do not believe in interfering after conception has taken place. We do not believe in destroying after conception, but preventing conception. There is where we differ, and that is what I want to make clear. We maintain that prevention is the important thing.
We want this bill passed because we know operations are going on at a tremendous rate, and we are trying our best with all the human decency we can command to take care of that problem and to help abolish it.
We know there are very few married women in the United States, that haven’t a conscience toward their children, they are seeking the best way out to protect themselves.
Physicians have gone on record to get the American Medical Association to have a research body to investigate all of these newspaper advertisements of contraceptives and other things in the drug stores, we have made a brief investigation ourselves. We have records that 43 percent of the contraceptive chemicals on the market are absolutely useless. A woman doesn’t know where else to go. She will go to the druggist and ask what to do, or her husband will ask, and the druggist will give to them whatever a high-powered salesman has loaded him up with.
Mr. Healey. You do contend that because of the physiological differences in women, each woman presents almost a new case?
Mrs. Sanger. That is right.
Mr. Celler. And any information along this line to be imparted should be imparted by a physician or someone in a position to impart knowledge?
Mrs. Sanger. That is right.
Mr. Healey. You say the reason the poorer classes are not getting that is because they can’t afford to get that information from physicians; is that why they are not getting it?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes; partly.
Mr. Healey. If we passed this bill, do you think there will be any reason why they can afford after the passage of this bill to get it any more than they can now?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes.
Mr. Healey. What is the reason?
Mrs. Sanger. In New York City, for instance, or most of the cities, if the woman can go to the private family physician and pay his charges, there is no hesitancy then on the part of the doctor if he has been instructed in methods, but if she goes to the hospital he will not break the law. There are 7,177 hospitals in the United States. In addition, the hospitals have to pay for those articles at their own cost, and they will not do it. I know a woman who was dismissed from a hospital for giving a contraceptive device to a woman who was in there are who had six children already, and was not in a physical condition to have more.
Mr. Healey. As a practical matter, women will not go to a physician if we pass this bill any more than they go now, and won’t this information pass on from person to person, and therefore the information will be abused and will not be used in a manner beneficial to that particular reason?
Mrs. Sanger. It cannot be done that way any more than you can get proper eyeglasses at a 10-cent store.
That is the main thing, when they go to qualified persons at established places where competent instruction is given, they simply cannot pass it on. A woman would be a fool to use it when advised for someone else. She might as well not have anything at all as to try to use something given to someone else.
I am of the opinion that the medical profession will have to do away with all of this scattered broadcasting of chemicals and materials, and have it tied up in a way it will be distributed at the proper place where the women can seek advice, and I believe that is the only possible safeguarding of the whole question we are talking about.
Now, here is a little book that is an introduction to the Rhythm, and gives the contents of the book, and I would like you to see just what is in it.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I believe we are all very much in the same boat and this whole thing is getting beyond us, and I believe it is time for Congress to take action on this and try to establish it on right principles. I have every faith in the medical profession. I know that among physicians there are good and bad, but the great mass of them are decent men of integrity. We have got to trust them, and we have got to have a thing of this kind placed somewhere, in my opinion, and it cannot be in better hands than in the hands of our medical profession.
Mr. Healey. You don’t mean to leave the impression with this committee that the opposition to the passage of this law is confined to Catholics?
Mrs. Sanger. I think the organized opposition is.
Mr. Healey. In view of all the people who testified here from the other religions?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes, there were mostly individuals.
Mr. Healey. There are millions of people throughout the country opposed to birth control, of all religious denominations.
Mrs. Sanger. I doubt it, but if you are going to put in individual letters, I could have brought in trunks of individual letters, if I had an idea you wanted them.
Mr. Healey. There are millions of non-Catholics throughout the country who are opposed to this, and you know that as a matter of fact.
Mrs. Sanger. No; I don’t – not millions.
Mr. Healey. You ought to know there is considerable opposition to it from every state.
Mrs. Sanger. There is no organized opposition except from the Catholic Church. A small group of Lutherans have opposed it, and they are the only groups we have any record of.
Mr. Healey. Have you tried to get resolutions from other churches sponsoring your view?
Mrs. Sanger. We have, yes.
Mr. Healey. Have you such resolutions of endorsement?
Mrs. Sanger. They have gone in the record; I think they were put in yesterday. The endorsements of some medical organizations and some religious organizations are in the record.
Mr. Healey. I mean the national bodies representing the churches throughout the country.
Mrs. Sanger. Yes; there are individual churches just like those read here today, individual Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists – there are lots of them.
Mr. Chairman. Are you through, Mrs. Sanger?
Mrs. Sanger. Yes; and if there are any questions I would be glad to answer them.
The Big Problem of Married People Solved, was omitted by the MSPP editors.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project