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Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control, 1942," 1943.

Source: " Britannica Book of the Year (1943), p. 109.."

For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, see Birth Control, 1941 ; Birth Control, 1943 ; Birth Control, 1944 ; Birth Control, 1945 ; Birth Control, 1946 ; Birth Control, 1947 ; Birth Control, 1948 ; Birth Control, 1949 ; Birth Control, 1950 ; Birth Control, 1951 ; Birth Control, 1952 ; Birth Control, 1953 ; Birth Control, 1954 ; Birth Control, 1955 ; Birth Control, 1956 ; Birth Control, 1957 ; Birth Control, 1958 For typewritten drafts see Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:368 and Library of Congress Microfilm 129:94, 99B and 101.

Birth Control.

The Birth Control Federation of America, Inc. by vote of its members at the Annual Meeting in January 1942, changed its name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., as more indicative of its aims and purposes. Work during the year was concentrated on: (1) inclusion of pregnancy spacing in more State Health Departments; (2) stimulation of adequate teaching of contraception in medical schools and wider distribution to physicians, of a condensed authoritative text by Robert L. Dickinson, on techniques of conception control; (3) raising funds for research, and (4) continuing public education.

Claude C. Pierce, M.D. who retired as former Director of Region 1 of the U.S. Public Health Service, became Medical Director of the Federation, John H. J. Upham, M.D., former President of the American Medical Association, was elected Chairman of the Board, and Nicholson J. Eastman, M.D., head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Johns Hopkins Medical School, became Chairman of the National Medical Council on Birth Control.

(1) Public Health.

Three more states were assisted in initiation pregnancy spacing in their Health Departments, bring the total to six.

Clinical Service.

On December 1, 1942, there was 782 services in the United States; 216 in hospitals; 256 in public health quarters; 310 extra mural; and 336 of the total supported in whole or part by public funds.

(2) Medical Education.

Copies of a new edition of Dr. Dickinson’s Techniques of Conception Control” were sent, on request, to 45,000 physicians and medical schools. Returns on a questionnaire sent to 34,000 of those receiving the pamphlet, showed that the doctors greatest interest was in technique. A syllabus for teaching contraception in medical school was drawn up, to be sent for their consideration to heads of these institutions.

Medical Endorsements.

The Florida State Medical Association, the Tennessee State Medical Society and the West Virginia State Medical Association, all passed resolutions approving child-spacing, or Planned Parenthood, as part of public health activities and medical practice.

(3) Research and Investigations.

The Federation raised funds for research in various aspects of human fertility, to be conducted under the guidance of the National Committee on Maternal Health. These studies are long range projects; results will be announced at their termination. There is still urgent need for research in simpler effective contraceptive methods. Among the independent clinical studies on simple forms of contraception, were those of Irving R. Stein, et al (a) in Chicago, Beebe and Overton, (b) in Nashville, Beebe (c) in a rural area in West Virginia, and Beebe and Geisler (d) in a rural area of Kentucky. All of these studies showed a varying reduction in fertility among the cases advised. Clinic Reports show diaphragm and jelly the choice of doctors in private practice; in public health clinics foam powder and sponge seemed to give adequate protection when regularly used. the non-use of a method, occasionally, was the human factor which faced doctors in all branches of preventive medicine.

The Council on chemistry and Pharmacy of the American Medical Association appointed a Committee on contraceptives to study drugs used in this field and to report on contraceptive preparations, and the Medical Sub-Committee of the Family Planning Association of Great Britain appointed a special Ad-Hoc Committee to conduct a clinical investigation of the efficiency of certain chemical contraceptives.

(4) Public Education.

Negro Program.

A two-year Negro child-spacing demonstration project was successfully carried out under the most difficult conditions to provide proof that under public health direction the benefits of planned parenthood can reach and will receive acceptance by even the poorest and most illiterate groups. Negro leaders in the fields of medicine, education and social welfare gave active support to a national educational campaign.

Legal Decisions, U.S.

The Supreme Court of Errors, of Connecticut, by a vote of 3 to 2, on the Tileston case in June, ruled that the State law on contraception was constitutional and that under it no doctor could advise the use of contraceptives even in cases where the life of a patient was threatened by pregnancy. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to accept the Tileston case for review. In Massachusetts, all efforts of the opposition to keep the question off the ballot having failed, the people voted in a referendum as to whether physicians in that state could legally advice patients on contraceptives, when life or health were threatened by pregnancy.


In Great Britain birth control clinics remained open and an increase in the number of patients was reported. Conscription of women for war work led to a demand for contraceptive by many who could not carry on in the country’s war effort if they became pregnant. Medical Officers of Health were reported as cooperating, in many countries by referring cases to clinics for advice. Elsewhere in Europe no information filtered through, beyond and authentic report from Germany that contraceptives were among the few articles still advertised for sale in a number of large cities. Germany, Italy, and Japan were all pressing frantically for higher birth rates. this policy, accompanied by suppression of birth control information did not bring the desired results.


Irving R. Stein, Melvin R. Cohen and Rita Nielsen. "Jelly alone as Contraceptive Method." Human Fertility (April 1942).

Gilbert W. Beebe and John Overton. The Contraceptive Service of the Department of Health, City of Nashville. J.A.M.A.. (March 28, 1942).

G.W. Beebe. Contraception and Fertility in the Southern Appalachian (1942).

G.W. Beebe and Murray Geisler. Control of Contraception in a Selected Rural Sample--Human Biology. (Feb. 1942).

Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project