Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control," 25 Apr 1916.
Source: " Birth Control Way to Welfare--Mrs. Sanger, The Chicago Daily Tribune, Apr 26, 1916, p. 17."
Margaret Sanger visited Chicago, Illinois as part of her 1916 American tour, and delivered a lecture at the West Side Auditorium. For a possible draft of this speech see "Birth Control (Chicago Address to Women)". For an interview given at the same time, see "Interview on Chicago," Apr. 25, 1916.
Mrs. Margaret Sanger lectured last night at the west side auditorium on "Birth Control" to an audience of 1,200 people. So crowded was the hall, so large the number that wished to get in, that a dozen times during the evening the lecture had to be halted on account of the fire laws, for the police to put out the people who were standing.
The audience was composed in large measure of young people--girls and young women and young men. There were high school girls with their hair down their backs in curls.
Mrs. Sanger, who has been fourteen years a trained nurse in obstetric cases in New York, has devoted the last three years to studying birth control here and in European countries. She says that 75 per cent of all the diseases of men and women in this country are due to ignorance of sex life.
"The first step to the goal for women is a knowledge of what to do. Only the wealthy have this knowledge today. For them abortions are possible and with them there are no deaths. But it is the poor who need this knowledge, and you will find that the doctors know the state and moral law by heart when it comes to treating poor women for abortion. There is no country in the world which has so many abortions and so many deaths from abortion as the United States."
"After all, this is only a question of labor. The workmen are starved out of work by their own children, who enter into the competition at an incredibly early age."
"Statistics have determined that 85 per cent of the prostitutes in America come from families of eight and nine children, and that 50 per cent of these girls are defectives. And do you know that the fertility of a defective parent is four times greater than that of a normal parent?"
"Has the state a better right to decide when a woman shall have a child than the woman herself? They call me immoral. Who is more immoral–-I, going around trying to help women to bring up their one or two offspring in comparative health, security, and mental perfection, or Mr. Roosevelt, who goes up and down the country urging women whose husbands get $10 a week, who may be diseased or idiots or what not to have just as many children as they can? And yet he is praised everywhere. Is that moral to delude a woman into producing cannon fodder for professional jingoes?"
"I know nothing more disgraceful in this country than the Little Mothers' league. Think of little 10 year old girls spending all their time looking after smaller sisters, bending over them, deforming themselves so they can never properly bear motherhood themselves! All these palliatives–-the better babies movement, the Infant Protective league–-all make me think of the quack who cures the cancer by burning away the top in place of going after the root."
"Every country has knowledge of birth control and is anxious to send it to us. But we are the only country the postal laws of which forbid the discussion of such matters in the malls. Do we realize the menace of this censorship? The postal service was never created to be a religious or ethical institution."
Mrs. Sanger quoted Holland, which has established fifty-two free clinics for instructing women in health hygiene and in teaching them birth control. Her aim is to do the same thing in this country. Already ten leagues have been formed, and last night hundreds of women signed the slips asking for the forming of a similar league in Chicago.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project