Margaret Sanger, "Mrs. Slee Outlines Problems of Population," 01 Jan 1954.

Source: " Arizona Daily Star January 24, 1954 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:446."

For draft version see Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:906 and 911.


Mrs. Slee Outlines Problems of Population

World-Famous Worker Reports on Crucial Job to be Done

By Mrs. Margaret Sanger Slee

A recent article headlined in the Arizona Daily Star “Growing Pace of Population Stirs Warning” was all too brief in its story of the alarming situation of population growth throughout the world. The report quotes was issued by the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C. This bureau is maintained by non-government scientists, mainly demographers, and is free and independent to study situations and report them to its readers. The report called upon the United States and other nations to face squarely and realistically the population problems in the world today, and thus avoid the tragedy caused by hungry people, who will eventually resort to violence or succumb to the false promises of communism, as the Chinese have done and groups in other overpopulation countries are trying to do.

Glimmering of Hope

Fortunately there is a glimmering of hope, at last an awakening on the part of some governments like Japan and India to see the importance of controlling population growth. The census report of 1951 by the Government of India called upon the planning commission to undertake an intensive campaign throughout India to control the birth rate, in order to avert national disaster caused by the rapidly growing population, now 357,000,000, and soaring at the rate of five million every year. Attention is called to the fact of the total world population, estimated at 2,465,000,000 in 1951, increasing by 75,000 persons every day, or 30,000,000 a year, all of which increases daily and yearly because of the fact of medical science, improved satisfaction, which cuts down the death rate in these countries, which otherwise would not be so rapidly increasing.

Chaos Predicted

A recent book by a distinguished demographer, Professor Fairfield Osborn, presents a persuasive survey, in his recent book “The Limits of the Earth”, showing the connection throughout the ages between agricultural resources, population increase and the advance and welfare of civilization. He, like other experts and demographers, believes that improved techniques and agriculture, etc. can somewhat increase food production, but even with the development of new areas, and it is doubtful that there are many, that the increase of food production cannot keep up with the present increase of population, unless there is a general policy of slowing down the birthrate, a national spacing of children in families, and in certain cases the limitation of numbers. Unless this slowing down and spacing can occur on a large scale, ultimate world chaos is bound to result.

As one becomes acquainted with the survey and the serious studies of experts in the field of soil erosion, population growth and the general deterioration of standards and the overcrowding in cities and schools and transportation, one wonders why this wild mad race calling upon people to increase their numbers.

Previous Catastrophe

Should not the purpose of government be a happier, better, healthier existence for its people here and now? Have we not seen the catastrophe of this madness with Mussolini, Hitler, and the warmongers of Japan? Where has this madness led their people? It is all too obvious today where overpopulation can lead any country. The movement for the control of the birth rate and the spacing of children in families has been in most countries like the voice in the wilderness. Fortunately in the U.S. in all our large cities between 500 and 600 private clinics have been set up where parents may come and receive individual, personal, scientific information on controlling the size of the family. But this is a wee drop in the ocean compared to what needs to be done, and especially in reaching down to the strata of our population where ill health, poor housing, and overcrowding have caused and are causing social conditions that most nations cannot be proud of.

Tucson Lauded

We are fortunate in this city of Tucson to have such a Planned Parenthood clinic, which has for the past 18 years has helped parents. It is a proud record where more than 6,430 parents have availed themselves of proper knowledge and today can demonstrate the good fortune of small healthy family units. The majority of the mothers who apply for such information are often in poor health, usually financially unable to meet the needs of the three or four, or six and eight children they already have. The clinic does not charge for this information.

The board of directors are volunteers and must go to the people of Tucson to help meet the cost of this service. Perhaps the greatest advancement as to the humanity of this work is the fact that the overcrowded countries of the Orient are accepting it as a way to a better life and a better civilization.

The one obstacle in the way of more far-reaching results is the lack of a simple, cheap, generally acceptable method of contraception, or methods that could be used by the ignorant, primitive people throughout the slums and jungles of the world. This means laboratory research, of which I am proud to say four projects are already valiantly struggling for existence in this country and one in England. The technicians are struggling on pennies, where the research on atom bombs and other destructive forces has millions in its disposal.

Population Commission

Research for this project scarcely has pennies. The world looks to the United States for the answer, as we have been foremost in projecting and carrying the ideals of controlling population for the past several decades. The United Nations has now a population commission to study these problems and has called a meeting in September, 1954 to convene in Rome, Italy. What comes of this commission no one can say.

But we in Tucson will go on struggling as valiantly as possible, helping and educating and advising parents and mothers and fathers to be and about to be, wherever and whenever they request such information.


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