Margaret Sanger, "District of Columbia Mothers' Health Association Speech," 05 Oct 1938.

Source: " Margaret Sanger Calls on U.S. to Offer Birth Control Service,New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 6, 1938 Mrs. Sanger Assails D.C., Washington Post, Oct. 6, 1938 U.S. Urged to Aid in Birth Control, Washington Herald, Oct. 6, 1938 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:421."

Sanger spoke under the auspices of the Washington Mothers' Health Association at the YWCA's Barker Hall. Also appearing was Dr. Prentiss Willson, Rev. F. Bland Tucker, Frederick A. Ballard, and Edith E. Willson. No complete version of the speech has been found; the text below comes from three different newspapers.


Margaret Sanger Calls on U.S. to Offer Birth Control Service

Speaking at the Young Women's Christian Association Hall under the auspices of the Mothers' Health Association, Mrs. Sanger said evidence showed that the public was in favor of birth control. “Public opinion polls, resolutions by organizations whose membership totals many millions of citizens, editorials in leading magazines, indicate what the public wants,” she said.

“But when the matter is put up squarely to government officials who should properly inaugurate birth-control services on a nationwide scale, we run into an impenetrable wall of inertia and subterfuge.”

“The W. P. A. was asked to include birth-control information to mothers in the home-nursing service and medical clinics carried on under its public health program,” Mrs. Sanger recalled.

Mrs. Sanger Assails D.C. Baby Deaths

Washington should have vastly greater facilities for the spread of birth control information to help combat its “disgraceful” infant mortality and maternal death rate, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, advocate of birth control declared last night at a meeting of the Mothers' Health Association.

Mrs. Sanger asserted that, “right here in the Capital of our great country the maternal death rate is twice as high as that in England and Wales.”

Implicitly in her address, and expressly afterward, Mrs. Sanger denounced the “tragic” failure of United States government agencies to educate the public in respect to birth control.

It is time to consider the increase “not of our population but of its quality,” she asserted, observing that “we are bringing down the level of intelligence in this country to the average menial equipment of a juvenile of 14. That's something for a democracy to think about.”

Looking forward to a “consciously conceived” race, Mrs. Sanger proposed a six-point program to her audience, which consisted overwhelmingly of women: Sterilization of persons with transmissible disease. Women with tuberculosis, heart or kidney disease, goiter, etc., should be “safeguarded from pregnancy” until they are cured. Normal parents who have subnormal children should be discouraged from having more. Every woman should have right to space birth of her children from two to three years. Parents “unable to care for two children should not be encouraged to have nine.” Doctors should be free to give “any man or woman information so they can adjust their lives in marriage and not have children the first two years.”

U.S. Urged to Aid in Birth Control

“As an American citizen I demand--and I hope that this organization joins with me in demanding-- that Government agencies charged with the responsibility of caring for the health and welfare of the American people should provide birth control service for all mothers who wish it and are too poor to pay the fees of private physicians.

“To do less is not only a denial of democracy, it is cruel and inhuman.”


Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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