Margaret Sanger, "The Future of Contraception," Jan 1937.

Source: " The Journal of Contraception,, Jan. 1937, pp. 3-4 Margaret Sanger Papers Collected Document Series C16:406."

Sanger based this article on her address to the Conference on Contraceptive Research and Clinical Practice, on Dec. 29, 1936. For these comments, see "Welcoming Address to the Conference on Contraceptive Research & Clinical Practice," Dec 29, 1936, and "Statement at the Conference on Contraceptive Research and Clinical Practice," Dec 29, 1936.


The Future of Contraception

by Margaret Sanger

January, 1937

On behalf of the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau, I have the honor and the pleasure to welcome you to this conference. It is not fitting that I should take the time of this session to tell you all that has been accomplished by the Clinical Research Bureau during its thirteen years of functioning. We are, however, proud of its achievements. We are proud that it has been a demonstration center and a teaching and educational center for medical students and practitioners, especially for those who have been unable to obtain instruction in the theory and technique of contraception in their medical colleges. We are happy to have given this instruction and this service to doctors, nurses and midwives not only from all parts of this country but from countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, in fact to physicians from nearly every part of the globe.

But the outstanding achievement of this Bureau has been to inform, teach, instruct and give contraceptive information to over 56,000 women who have appealed to us for this advice. The records of these women may truly be looked upon as a veritable human laboratory for research and correlations. These records have given factual evidence which should remove the whole question of birth control from the hot-bed of controversy to the quiet calm of scientific consideration.

We have been fortunate in enlisting the cooperation of competent physicians. We have amassed a wealth of incontrovertible evidence supporting the feasibility and the desirability of contraceptive practice. But we are not content to rest upon the laurels of these claims. We refuse to look back with satisfaction. Rather do we look forward with impatient, urgent demands. It is indeed a curious fact that for all the hundreds of thousands of women who have been advised and instructed in the more than 300 birth control centers now operating in the United States we have had to depend mainly upon a method discovered and perfected by Dr. Mensinga of Germany over 60 years ago. This method requires an individual examination, and this is precisely the reason why only a relatively small number of the women most in need of contraceptive advice are able to benefit by our efforts.

The birth control movement can definitely be said to have arrived at a stage in its development where it can help a large part of the population who are accessible to doctors, hospitals and health services where properly qualified doctors are available, but we must go further and supply the demand of the submerged sections, those who are clamoring for a cheap and effective means to control the size of the family; the women on homesteads, on farms, in the mining districts, and the millions of women in outlying rural districts where medical help is not available. They cannot come to us and we must go to them.

But before we can reach them and supply their urgent demands, before we can guarantee to them at least the same results as are attained by the city and urban women with the methods that have proved to be fairly reliable, we must find methods that are cheaper, easier to apply, and as harmless as these, and we must ask the scientist to come to our aid. We want his cooperation, his vision, his impersonal courage and wisdom.

We are fortunate at last to be able to announce that a recent decision handed down by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals has declared that the Federal statutes were not designed to obstruct the circulation of articles which may be intelligently employed by conscientious physicians for the purpose of saving life and promoting well being. This means the field is cleared for the discovery of inexpensive, reliable methods for the control of human fertility. Contraceptive research in both the laboratory and the clinic is now free to pursue its course emancipated from the stigma of prejudice.

In our effort to clear away this legal rubbish, we have uncovered many obstacles, but we cannot go much further alone. We cannot go either upward or onward without the help of the scientific mind. We should place the scientist not only at the helm but on the bridge, as captain to guide humanity into its unknown future; and it is because of this consciousness of humanity that we urge your cooperation and welcome your presence here.


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