Margaret Sanger, "Twenty Years of Defeat and Victory," 14 Nov 1936.
Source: " Margaret Sanger Backs Cause Before City Club, Rochester Times-Union, Nov. 14, 1936 Mrs. Sanger Makers Plea for Birth Control Urging Amendment to Present U.S. Law, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Nov. 15, 1936."
Sanger spoke before the Rochester City Club at the Hotel Seneca. The speech was not found, but was covered in local media. Sanger gave a speech with the same title in Chester, PA at the New Century Club on Apr. 8, 1937, but no text was found.
Red-haired, vivacious Mrs. Margaret Sanger, petite untiring commander of the birth control movement, told Rochester City Club today that “birth control is a matter of public health and preventive medicine and not a problem which private enterprise can solve.”
She spoke in Hotel Seneca ballroom. Mrs. Sanger launched the American drive for birth control in 1914.
The dynamic leader of what is now a world-wide movement aimed to emancipate women and strengthen many of the races of the earth, Mrs. Sanger urges “immediate amendment of the present federal laws which tie the hands of the physician and obstruct an adequate and scientific national birth control program.”
More than 1,000 organizations representing 20,000,000 people in this country have indorsed her efforts to change “obsolete federal laws,” she says.
Mrs. Sanger is now lining up her forces for a fifth attempt at putting over the Federal legislative program. Defeated four times, the program asks comparatively little of the government, according to Mrs. Sanger.
“I think our defeats have come about from a too conservative policy on our own part,” she said this morning. “We have not asked for enough, I think we should ask for more.”
The National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control will ask Congress that the United States mails and common carriers be opened to doctors, hospitals, medical colleges and licenced clinics.
Enthusiastic over the co-operation of the some 250 birth control clinics in this country, Mrs. Sanger points with growing pride to the momentum the movement is gaining abroad, especially in the Orient.
She brands Fascist forms of government as weakening their own populations and pushing the status of women back to the lowest ebb since the dawn of Christianity. Despite efforts of Fascist governments to promote wholesale propagation of their subjects the birth rate in both Italy and Japan is decreasing, Mrs. Sanger declared.
In India and in China the birth control movement is gaining rapid headway, she said, pointing to India as one of the chief fields for work in the movement. Mrs. Sanger recently returned from India, where, in the course of nearly four months, she gave 104 lectures.
Mahatma Gandhi, whom Mrs,. Sanger saw for three days at Wardha, agrees entirely with the birth control movement in principle, she said, adding that Gandhi’s political power has waned considerably although his spiritual power is still vitally evident.
Gandhi believes, she said, that India should cease producing multitudes of children until the health of the nation, the stupendous food problem and the inroads of disease have been solved.
Work in the Orient is facilitated by absence of laws, spiritual and governmental, opposed to the movement, Mrs. Sanger said.
In company with Mrs. Luther C. Fry, birth control leader in Monroe County, Mrs. Sanger visited the Rochester center this morning. She is a guest at the home of Mrs. Mary T. L. Gannett, 15 Sibley Place.
Public health measures and birth control legislation march hand in hand, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, champion of women, told the City Club yesterday at luncheon in Hotel Seneca.
“When public health measures are enacted to allow all classes to live in better health, to decrease mortality rates and to lengthen life,” she said, “it becomes absolutely necessary to control the number of births by similar measures. Otherwise we shall have a heavily overpopulated country.”
Dissemination of birth control information is a public problem, she declared, and federal legislation will be introduced at the impending session of Congress to provide a scientific and adequate national program for limitation of births.
“I urge the immediate amendment of the present federal laws which tie the hands of the physician and obstruct an adequate and scientific national birth control program,” she said. “More than 1,000 organizations with millions of members have endorsed our efforts to change these obsolete federal laws and 100,000 individuals have personally pledged support.”
The crisp-spoken little woman who was greeted by the police when she arrived in Rochester to speak before the City Club 20 years ago laid down a triple set of conditions which determine the number of children which any family can bear. Determining factors are: (1) number which a family can support; (2) number which a mother can bear and care for; (3) number within which a family can maintain its standard of living.
Birth control does not necessarily mean limitation, Mrs. Sanger said, although it is desirable for the population of the United States to remain stationary for 20 years until the various groups present in the country are assimilated.
Opposition and apathy spring from the so-called “leaders,” she said, in the campaign for control of population. The masses don’t need education to accept its philosophy, but rather ask scientific methods of practice, she said. Officials in government office are either opposed or fearful of expressing a public opinion on the subject, she declared.
As evidence of the fact that the poorer classes demand birth control education uniformly despite religious teachings, she pointed to the proportions of women who appear at New York centers. Protestant religions contribute 33 per cent, Catholic 32 per cent and Jewish 31 per cent, she said.
Theories of opposition which hold that birth control “destroys life” are fallacious, she said.
“The mere prevention of the fusion of two life cells can no more be classes as destruction of life than remaining unmarried or living in continence,” Mrs. Sanger flared.
That birth control would reduce the white race while other races increase is a false argument against it, she said. Birth control has been introduced, is being taught and is being increasingly practiced in Japan, China and India, she declared.
Women are losing their lives by bearing more children than is physically feasible; children are dying needlessly because of lack of care; and families are reduced to poverty, Mrs. Sanger charged, because the world fails to take action in regard to birth control.
Questioned in the City Club forum about the influence of birth control information among unmarried persons and its relation to immorality, she charged that birth control will produce neither morality nor immorality. Morality or its opposite comes from the human himself, she said, mere information will have no bearing upon it.
Mrs. Sanger yesterday was named winner of the award of the honor offered annually by the Town Hall Club of New York City for the “most conspicuous contribution to the enlargement and enrichment of life.”
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project