Margaret Sanger, "Rochester Council of Jewish Women Speech," 21 Jan 1932.

Source: " Scientific Information on Birth Control Advocated by Mrs. Sanger, Rochester Democrats Chronicle Jan. 20, 1932, p. 13-16."

Sanger delivered an address to the Council of Jewish Women at the Temple of B'rith Kodesh on Jan. 20 1932 in Rochester NY.

Scientific Information on Birth Control Advocated by Mrs. Sanger

A plea to give the women compelled to use the public clinic the scientific information available to her more fortunate sister who can afford to consult the private physician was made yesterday by Mrs. Margaret Sanger, internationally known advocate of birth control.

Mrs. Sanger spoke to a capacity audience of several hundred women in Temple B'rith Kodesh Temple under the sponsorship of the Council of Jewish Women. Three men braved the feminine audience to hear Mrs. Sanger, and a stenographer made a complete report of her speech.

“Birth control is the keynote of a new social and moral awakening,” Mrs. Sanger said. “It is the conscious control of the birth rate by means that prevent the conception of human life. All the great social problems are entrenched in the homes of the poor. Maternal and infant mortality, disease, child labor have their sad relation to poverty. I have seen mothers bowed and bent, carrying the triple burden of a job, a house, and maternity. They had to resign themselves to many children or resort to terrible drugs and poisons. The crimes of abortions are at our door for not permitting these women to have scientific information.”

Mrs. Sanger declared that the absence of knowledge had been responsible for the high mortality rate among mothers, especially where such disorders as heart or kidney disease, or tuberculosis made child bearing equivalent to a death sentence for the mother. Poverty and maternal exhaustion play their role in the statistics of 200,000 children who die annually in the United States before they reach their first birthday, she said. Child labor laws will be ineffectual until adjustments can be made so that the older children do not have to go out at 14 years of age to support the young brood.

Population also has its relation to war, Mrs. Sanger pointed out, indicating Japan and Italy as evidences of this.

“Japan has a population of sixty-five million in an area no larger than California,” she said. “The United States, Australia, and Canada have closed their doors to Japanese immigration. The population has just gone on growing until now it explodes in war. Manchuria is vast with oil and coal resources and good railroads. Japan has taken it unlawfully and menaces the peace of the world, but it would take the whole world to put her out of Manchuria. I think she’s never going to be put out.

"Italy, too, is increasing her population. A woman who does not have a child every two years is required to report to the health bureau and give an explanation. Italy, it seems, would breed humans like animals. The Italian population will undoubtedly overflow the national frontiers into France.”

Mrs. Sanger challenged her audience to lead the fight to amend the federal laws regarding birth control and permit the dissemination of information under the direction of physicians, both in public lectures clinics, and through the mails.

She listed seven important reasons for birth control. In cases of transmissible disease, parenthood should be avoided. Women suffering from temporary ailments which are curable out to be put off motherhood until their health is improved. Parents who have had a sub-normal child have no right to bring other children into the world. Children should be spaced nearly three years apart to permit the mother to regain her health, except where unusually healthy parents desire two children to be closer in age.

It may be all right to marry in adolescence but it is better to put off parenthood until that period is over, Mrs. Sanger believes. Economic reasons should enter into the consideration of when to have children, she believes. Wise young people wait for a period of at least two years after marriage before having children, she said.

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project