Margaret Sanger, "Rangoon Gazette Interview," 05 Feb 1936.
Source: " Dr. Sanger in Rangoon: Leader of Birth Control Movement," Rangoon Gazette, 5 Feb 1936."
This is the first of two interviews published in the Rangoon Gazette. For the second, see Feb. 6, 1936.
Dr. Margaret Sanger, internationally recognized as the leader of the birth control movement, arrived in Rangoonyesterday from India. This is Dr. Sanger’s first visit to India, although she has already visited almost every other country in the world.
"Parenthood when it is responsible can be a noble trust, a proud commission, an honored assignment--but this can be accomplished only by taking it out of the sphere of accident and placing it in the sphere of conscious responsibility. We can then trust that every child will be a wanted child, born to its rightful heritage of love, care and comfort." This is Dr. Sanger's message to Burmaas it has been to every country she has visited, since she began her crusade for birth control twenty-one years ago.
Dr. Sanger herself is surprised at the fruitful results of her visit to India. She spoke at the All-India Women's Conference's annual meeting at Travancoreat the end of December. As a result a resolution was passed to ask the municipalities and hospitals in India to give free advice concerning birth control and the spacing of children. There were eight-five for the resolution and twenty-four against.
"Just prior to my departure for Burma, I had an interview--a rather prolonged interview, it lasted two days--with Mr. Gandhi," Dr. Sanger said to a Rangoon Gazette reporter. "I was his guest and had a very receptive and hospitable visit. We discussed the regulating of the size of the family among the poorer families, for the well-to-do are already aware of the various methods and have the means to practice them. The children of the poor only come into this world to die off in large numbers. Mr. Gandhi agreed that there should be regulation of families, but we differed as to methods to achieve this. He was of the opinion that the correct method was continence. I opposed him, and said that, although this might be practicable in small groups who could sublimate their energies, it was not for the greater masses in their humdrum every day existence. I put forward my arguments to support my statement against continence and said that I thought birth control was much more scientific, less injurious and more conducive to the happiness of the whole family."
Dr. Sanger will leave tomorrow for Singapore. She hopes to meet medical men in Rangoon and, if possible, to organize a meeting.
Mrs. Sanger has had a career which without exaggeration has been romantic. She was born in a small factory town in New York State. Of Irish parentage, she was the sixth in a family of eleven children. On her mother’s side she is related to the famous translator of Omar Kheyyani, Edward Fitzgerald; her father was a Civil War veteran, a liberal, and a philosopher.
The American fight for birth control was launched by Margaret Sanger in 1914 when she invented the phrase "birth control," launched the "Woman Rebel" magazine, and founded the first birth control organization in America.
The "Woman Rebel" was suppressed, and Mrs. Sanger was indicted by the Federal Government. Between her indictment and appearance for trial, she studied in England and Holland, grounding herself in the social and economic aspects of the question and learning methods in the birth control clinics of Holland. In England her case aroused such sympathy that a letter in her behalf was addressed to President WilsonPresident Wilson by Arnold Bennett, Gilbert Murray, H.G. Wells, and other prominent people. When she returned home for trial, protests poured in to the judge and to the President, and in the face of this support, the case was dropped.
Her next move was to test the New York State law by opening a clinic in the slum section of Brooklynin 1916. As a trained nurse she saw the misery caused by too frequent pregnancies among the poor and resolved to help the mothers of America obtain safe, harmless birth control information. After ten days the clinic was raided by the police, Mrs. Sanger was convicted and spent a month in jail, but on appeal a judicial opinion was handed down permitting doctors to give contraceptive advice "for the cure or prevention of disease."
Taking advantage of this decision, Mrs. Sanger opened the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau in New York City in 1923. This clinic, the oldest in America and the largest in the world, has been operating ever since and serves as a teaching centre for clinics throughout the country.
In the spring of 1929 this clinic, too, was raided but the protests of physicians, lawyers, and an outraged public made it quickly apparent that a mistake had been made. Mrs. Sanger received an official apology and the court decision fully exonerated the clinic physicians.
Meanwhile Mrs. Sanger was developing the national and international aspects of the subject. In 1921 she organized the First American Birth Control Conference, held in New York. The meeting was attended by men and women prominent in medicine and the social sciences and their participation and offers to help the cause did much to establish the movement.
The following year Mrs. Sanger made a world tour, speaking in China, Japan, and Hawaii. Great impetus was given to birth control in the Orientthrough this visit.
An International Birth Control Conference was held in New York under her leadership in 1925, and two years later she was instrumental in calling together the World Population Conference in Geneva.
Resigning the presidency of the American Birth Control League, which she had founded, Margaret Sanger organized the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in 1929,to secure the amendment of the federal laws which forbid the sending of contraceptive information or supplies by mail or common carrier. Realizing that these federal laws must be amended of birth control information is to be given by clinics and hospitals to the poor who need it most, the Committee was organized for a nation-wide educational campaign. Its membership includes leading public-spirited men and women--doctors, teachers, ministers, welfare workers, nurses, editors, economists, and home-makers. It comprises many thousands of individuals who have given their personal endorsement to the birth control movement and the legislative aims of the Committee.
Actively aiding in the campaign to amend the federal laws is an imposing list of medical, social, educational, religious, and political organizations. The success of Mrs. Sanger’s work during the last five years may be measured in part by the number and kinds of groups which have passed resolutions in support of her efforts to amend the federal laws. Outstanding among these are the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, regional conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the General Convention of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church, state medical societies and state public health associations, state Conferences of Social Work, Leagues of Women Voters, Parents and Teachers Associations, and, during the last year, the General Federation of Women's Clubs composed of 2,000,000 members and the American Association of University Women, representing 450,000 college women.
Bills have been introduced into each Congress since 1930 and hearings, with attendant publicity, have been held.
A happy recognition of Mrs. Sanger’s services was given by the American Women's Association which in 1931 presented to her its medal for distinguished achievement. During this year her autobiography, "My Fight for Birth Control," was published. Mrs. Sanger is also the author of "Motherhood in Bondage," "Happiness in Marriage," "Woman and the New Race," "The Pivot of Civilization ." She founded the "Birth Control Review" and was its editor for eleven years.
Among her major activities during the least few years are the organization of the American Conference on Birth Control and National Recovery, held in Washington in January, 1934, the introduction of bills now pending in Congress and the gradual enlightenment of the National Committee through regional and state chairmen.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project