Margaret Sanger, "The Present Day Trend of Birth Control," 16 Nov 1936.
Source: " Mrs. Sanger Gives Hearers Plenty to Think About, Buffalo Courier Express, Nov. 17, 1936."
Sanger spoke under the auspices of the Buffalo Family Relations Institute at the Hotel Fillmore on November 16, 1936.
That part of Buffalo that went to the Hotel Fillmore last night to hear Mrs. Margaret Sanger, greatest advocate of birth control in this country, discuss the subject that is nearest and dearest to her heart, came away impressed and admiring. The Buffalonians who heard her for the first time, this doughty reddish-brown-haired woman, who looks meek as the proverbial Moses, but is one of the greatest fighters of our time, was a revelation. To Margaret Sanger, adherents she was, as always, a delight.
For she stood upon a brilliantly lit stage in a demure black gown, as gentle and feminine a feminist as ever breathed, and buried facts in the face of a remarkable audience that was at least one-half male. That she gained militant converts to her cause was apparent by an 80 per cent lineup at the conclusion of her lecture to sign pledge cards for campaign activities of the local Family Relations Institute. That she gave all who heard her something to think about and work about was also evident in the numbers of groups of persons who gathered to talk about her lecture for at least a half-hour after the verbal pyrotechnic display was off.
Riding right into the thick of battle, little Mrs. Sanger was only a minute launched on her speech when she knuckled down to battle with religious antagonism to her cause.
“Control of the population is one of the great problems of life, and the greatest problem of our age,” she said. “When we call into the world a new life consciously, then we begin on a new and better civilization.
“Birth control is, however first of all, an answer to the prayer of the poor--the sad, unfortunate people all over the world who are asking what they can do to keep from wrecking the lives of countless of mothers and keep fathers from becoming hopeless and despairing.”
Mrs. Sanger's recent tour of India provided her with interesting material for part of her talk last night. Most people are badly informed about Indians she said. She labeled it the country of contrasts, filled with the horribly rich and the poor to whom life is a starved, living death, where the weather is either intensely hot or icy cold; where persons are either abysmally ignorant or deeply learned. India, she said, has tried everything, and she pointed out that, in the face of “Purdah,” that state where women as a majority were kept in virtual imprisonment never being seen by any man except their husbands. Gandhi had but to send out the call and the women heroically revolted to free themselves almost overnight.
Mrs. Sanger was invited to India as the guest of the All India Women's Conference and she traveled 10,000 miles setting up 50 birth control centers.
“There were no legal objections in India in my work and absolutely no religious interference like that in this country,” she continued. “Because in India, the problem has become acute and leaders and educators have been forced to this action.”
“But the identical factors necessitating birth control exist in this country that exist in India. First, the infant mortality rate; second, the father’s wage; third, the need to space children to give mothers and children a chance; and fourth, the place of the child in the family. Certainly to regard to this last point it is apparent that it makes little difference if the mother has waited two and three years between each child, if there are too many children in the family. Figures from any health report show that. When there are seven children in a family, the mortality rate jumps drastically. When we get up to twelve children in the family, the records show that 60 per cent of the twelve die.
“Who, then, benefits from this? Does the community? Does the nation? Does the church gain by the unhappy deaths of hundreds of mothers and hundreds of children? I maintain that we are in a state of barbarism when we have the knowledge that will make these tragic lives happy, that will save these suffering mothers, that will insure children a right place in their family picture-- and we withhold it. Why not make life something constructive. Why waste it?
“We are trying to make a new world,” said Mrs. Sanger, “to pass on the torch of life in bodies, fit, perfect and beautiful. We want young people to look on marriage not filled with fear, to have women exist without the sword of death hanging over their heads. We want to give to the poor the same knowledge those of wealth have. We want to amend the federal laws so that all hospitals can distribute information and that the information can be transmitted through the mails.”
Mrs. Sanger was introduced to the assembly last night by Dean Carlos C. Alden of the University of Buffalo and he followed her speech with a short resume of her remarkable life. Dr. Alfred Clarke, Mrs. Thomas Mitchell of the Family Relations Institute at 73 West Eagle Street; Mrs. Ansley W. Sawyer, Mrs. Herbert Davis, Thomas Penhey Jr., Mrs. Barday and Miss Gaylord of Cleveland were others on the platform at last night's meeting. Mrs. Sanger was the guest of Mrs. J. Frederick Schoellkopf, Jr. during her stay in Buffalo.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project