Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control, 1957," 1958.

Source: " Britannica Book of the Year (1958), pp. 105-106."

For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, see Birth Control, 1941 ; Birth Control, 1942 ; 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, 1958

Birth Control.

The problems of population growth and the need for control through widespread family planning programs were increasingly recognized during 1957. At a conference of the bishops of the Church of England at Lambeth palace, the control of rising population was realistically appraised. At a meeting of the International Rice commission in Lucknow, India, the director-general of the United Nations Food and Agricultural organization announced that production of food grains was hardly keeping pace with the population growth and a great part of the world was in want and hunger. In New York, speakers at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science declared that explosive population growth might soon threaten even the United States standard of living.

Throughout Africa a widened interest in controlling numbers through birth control was evidenced by the spread of private family planning work, aided by partial government support. The South African National Council for Maternal and Family Welfare had since 1935 steadily provided birth control services for the lowest income group, irrespective or race or creed. The council received an annual grant of 1,000 from the government health department.

In France, where birth control has been forbidden by law since 1920, a new organization, the Happy Motherhood association, announced plans for an intensive social and psychological study of current French attitudes toward birth control and related subjects. The group also hoped to establish counseling centres, modeled after those of the Marriage Guidance council in Britain, where French couples could go for marital advice.

The Singapore Family Planning association pressed for bigger government grants and received an increase from $28,335 to $33,333. Plans for the year included six new clinics and expansion of home visiting services. In Poland, where the first birth control clinic opened in Warsaw in 1931 under auspices of the Workmen's Association for Social Services, advice on setting up family planning clinics was sought and received from the International Planned Parenthood federation.

The Watumull foundation of the U.S. offered, during the year, an award for the first “ideal, universally acceptable contraceptive developed in India within three years.” An independent, nine-member committee was set up to test and evaluate contraceptives submitted. At the same time, efforts were continued in the search for a reliable oral contraceptive at the Central Drug Research institute in Lucknow, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Calcutta Bacteriological institute.

Numerous family planning conferences took place in various parts of the world in 1957, including the first all-Japan Conference on Family Planning in Tokyo with more than 1,500 participants and the third All-India Conference on Family Planning in Calcutta in January, where six-day sessions assessed “National Development Programs and Family Planning.” Delegates from all part of Europe, the near east and Africa gathered in West Berlin in October for the International Planned Parenthood federation's regional conference. Discussions centered on the moral, physical and psychological foundations for healthy family life.

A group of clergymen, medical men and social scientists participated in a symposium at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's 37th annual meeting in New York City in October. Discussion on the medical, moral and social implications of new contraceptives included reports on preliminary tests of new birth control methods. The symposium's consensus was that some of the newer contraceptive methods were about to leave the experimental stage and enter into wide clinical use; other methods, however, were still too new to be completely evaluated. The featured speaker at the annual meeting was Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, first premier of Barbados, who told an audience of 800 that underdeveloped countries needed assistance from the scientists and governments of more advanced nations if they were to cope effectively with explosive population growth.

During the year the American federation established biological research and social research committees to guide and coordinate work in research in human reproduction. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America also became a member of the sponsoring and participating organizations of the National Citizens Committee for the United Nations World Health organization.


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