Margaret Sanger, "The Birth Control Movement," 07 Jan 1936.
Source: " "Birth Control", Justice, Jan. 9, 1936."
Mrs. Margaret Sanger, delivered an address on “the birth control movement,”at Adyar on Tuesday afternoon.
Mrs. Sanger defined birth control as “the conscious control of the birth rate by means that prevent the conception of life.” Birth control did not mean the taking of life even in its most latent germ state, but the prevention of the union of germ and sperm. Control did not mean a birth rate falling below a standard necessary to preserve a healthy and prosperous nation, but the regulation of the number of children in any given family to that which could be properly educated and given the care due to every child. Mrs. Sanger averred that in many of the birth control clinics childless couples are given special consideration in an endeavor to solve also this unhappy situation.
“To me,” said Mrs. Sanger, “the word ‘conscious’ is one of the most important things in the whole movement. No longer shall the race be brought into being through the recklessness or the abandonment of the movement, but the child shall come considered, planned for, wanted, and loved. It is the right of every child to come as in invited guest.”
Mrs. Sanger also referred to the sufferings of the poor who in sickness, disease, and poverty, still went on bringing unwanted children into squalid misery. She revealed the gripping fear of women who faced unwanted pregnancies. Always, she said, birth control had been known and practiced by the educated classes but the information had not been at the disposal of the poor. She traced the history of the practice of infanticide and showed that coincident with the knowledge of abortion, this practice disappeared, and in the lecturer’s opinion, the tremendous evils of widespread abortion existent at the present time would not be done away with until birth control information was available to those who needed it.
She then dealt with the two great objections to the idea of birth control: First, that it might be injurious to woman. Second, that it would be conducive to an increase of immorality. Answering the former objection, she quoted statistics from Hollandwhere such information had been disseminated for over 44 years. The infant and maternal mortality rate had been greatly lowered and conditions in family life much improved.
Discussing the question of an increase of immorality, Mrs. Sanger said: “I refuse to accept the theory that morality or immorality comes from outside forces. It is an individual matter. One might as well say the automobile, good roads, good hotels, etc. are causes of immorality as birth control.” She boldly declared: "If two people are going to be illicit and immoral, they have a right only to injure themselves-not bring an innocent child into a world which at present has no place for the illegitimate child.”
All authorities at the present time, were agreed that birth control was a necessity. In an interview with Mahatma Gandhi, Mrs. Sanger stated he quite agreed with her as to the necessity of women being freed from this bondage. Mr. Gandhi believed that continence was the only answer and that women should resist men to enforce it. Mrs. Sanger expressed herself in utter sympathy with the idea of continence though doubting the feasibility of resistance. However, she did not believe continence was a practical solution for those who are not yet evolved sufficiently to sublimate the sex urge through creative mental or artistic activity. She cited instances where much harm was done through enforced continence in the case of the less spiritually cultured people.
“The whole relationship of parents and children, of husband and wife, changes with birth control knowledge was available and the husband’s economic fears are removed,” concluded Mrs. Sanger. "Husband and wife become friends, pals; mothers have freedom to know and help their children. I believe birth control is the key-note of our social awakening and interlocked with the spiritual advances of the women of the race. Our physical sight came to us in the evolution of the race and so education became possible. I believe that our spiritual sight will come to us as we move upwards and onwards into that current of life where we become conscious of our acts and responsibilities, and most of all of that greatest responsibility of passing on the gift of life. Let us see that it is passed on in a body fir and perfect as an instrument for the service of the soul that we may summon to take its place in the mystery of natural being.”
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project