Margaret Sanger, "Infertility Services at the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau," 1954.

Source: "Abraham Stone Papers, Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard University Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:1045."

No published version was found.


For forty years I have been advocating responsible parenthood--the idea that every child shall be a wanted child. This is the meaning of “control”. “Control” does not necessarily mean limitation; it implies the ability to regulate in accordance with one’s needs and desires. A woman who either for health, eugenic, or social reasons should bear no more children, should be given the best available medical advice for the prevention of conception. At the same time, however, the woman who wants a child but cannot bear one for physical reasons should be given the best available medical advice and care to help her have a baby.

At our Bureau in New York, now known as the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau, we have a large service for women who for medical reasons require advice on family planning and child spacing; but we also have an extensive service for the care and treatment of the childless couple. This service was organized in 1935 by Dr. Abraham Stone and Dr. Frances A. Shields, and is now one of the most active centers of its kind in this country. Only patients referred by physicians are accepted at the Infertility Service of the Bureau, but already more than 2500 couples have received medical care for their childlessness at the Bureau.

At our Service we regard barrenness as a problem not of the wife or of the husband, but as a problem of the family. In every instance both the husband and the wife are thoroughly studied. The examination of the husband is usually simpler and may sometimes obviate extensive investigations of the wife.

As a first step, every couple is asked to come to a medical orientation lecture at a designated time. These lectures are given to groups of ten or fifteen newly registered couples. At this lecture the physician explains to the patients the anatomical and physiological factors of human reproduction, the various conditions that may lead to infertility, the tests required to determine the particular cause in individual cases, and the nature of the treatment employed. We have found that this orientation lecture is very helpful, not only in providing the necessary information, but also in relieving many tensions and anxieties.

What generally happens at an infertility service? Recently I had the privilege of observing one of the oldest centers in this field, the one conducted by Dr. John Rock at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Massachusetts. The following story tells of the work being carried on in that particular service, and is more or less representative of well-equipped centers for childless couples throughout the country.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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