Margaret Sanger, "Rangoon Gazette Interview," 06 Feb 1936.

Source: " "Surplus Population:Dr. Margaret Sanger's Remedy", Rangoon Gazette, Feb 6 1936."

This is the second of two interviews published in the Rangoon Gazette on Sanger's arrival in Burma. For the first interview see Feb. 5, 1936.

Surplus Population

Dr. Margaret Sanger's Remedy

Increasing population, the growing need for colonies to accommodate this surplus and finally war to acquire colonies to permit expansion. The remedy for this? Birth Control, replies Dr. Margaret Sanger, the President of the Birth Control Information Centre, and leader of the birth control movement throughout the world. Dr. Sanger arrived in Rangoon on Tuesday from her first trip through Indiaand her second tour round the world. Dr. Sanger in a further interview with a “Rangoon Gazette” reporter showed how birth control might have averted the wars into which Italyand Japanhave plunged.

“In certain countries there has been a gradually increasing surplus. This surplus creates labour problems, heightened even further with the growing use of machinery and labour saving devices. A country so affected should either scrap its machinery or refuse to employ it.

“A country with a surplus population cannot afford to reduce the standard of living and it has to expand and look for more country. This is the excuse put forward by Italy and Japan to justify their aggressive acts.

U.S.and Italian Emigrants

“Italy has been over-populated ever since the United States of America closed its doors to Italian emigrants in 1924. Up to this 25 per cent of Italy’s surplus population made their homes in America. As soon as immigration was stopped in this direction, Italy rattled her sword and began to talk of places in the sun. She already had a population which even the Great War did not lessen. In spite of this Mussolinidid all he could by offering bonuses and prizes to large families to still increase the numbers. She has not sufficient resources in the way of iron, coal and oil to build up industries with which to engage and feed the surplus population, and textile industries could not offer any competition to those of Japan and India. So it was inevitable as the population increased that she would begin to clamor of an overseas home- a colony.”

Is Italy's large surplus population due to Mussolini? Dr. Sanger seems to think so. It is her opinion that the people would have been quite content to limit the number of their families had not Mussolini's greed for power and more land led him to encourage a more prolific birth-rate.

“I was in Italy a few years ago,” Dr. Sanger said, “and people from villages close to where I stayed pleaded with me to divulge ways of limiting their families, which just goes to prove that they would like to limit their families.”

“The case with Japan is almost identical. She has the same conditions geographically. Two thirds of her territory is mountainous. Her native industries are not sufficient to feed the population. The doors of immigration were closed to her and she had to look round for a place with resources and to take it by force. The result is her capture of Manchukuo. Already we see the competition Japan is offering in the world market.

“In Western countries such as England, the U.S.A. and some European countries, we see a lower birth-rate and with it goes a decreasing death-rate. The population grows more slowly but on sound and healthy lines, and people live to a greater age. In India and other Oriental countries it is exactly the opposite.

“It is an interesting fact that the population of India has increased 34,000 during the last ten years. This is the highest increase known. India has the highest birth-rate and the highest death-rate. One-fifth of the number of babies born don’t live more than one year. Half the number don’t live more than five years.

“This can be attributed to three causes: Early motherhood, not spacing the children sufficiently to allow of the mothers to recuperate, and large families. These three factors affect infant mortality in every country in the world.

Saving of Lives

“The saving of lives and the prolonging of lives must go hand-in-hand with a decidedly lower birth-rate. And, if there was a space of two to three years between each child, it would lead to a slower rate of growth.

“It has been estimated that 150,000 babies are born every day throughout the world. Of these only 50,000 lives to see the completion of their first year.

“We want people to live as long as possible and as fully as their personality permits contributing their best to civilization and race. All this will gradually come about by birth control applied to a population. Birth control should be disseminated in hospitals by Public Health authorities as the practice should be directed among those physically and economically unfit to rear families.”

Dr. Sanger and Mrs. Edith How-Martin, who is on the Executive Committee of the Birth Control International Information Centre, London, spent yesterday interviewing medical men and Government medical officials. They held a small meeting at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Tyabjiin Lower Pazundaung Road. The meeting was well attended by medical men and women. Dr. Sanger and Mrs. How-Martin sail today for Singapore.

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