Margaret Sanger, "New York Banned Birth Control Exhibit Statement," 29 Aug 1941.
Source: " Mineola Fair Cancels Birth Control Exhibit, New York Herald Tribune, Aug. 29, 1941."
The first nine paragraphs of this article, describing the Queens-Nassau Agricultural Society's decision to ban the Birth Control Federation of America from participating the Mineola Fair have been omitted by the MSPP editors. The decision was made "as a direct result" of Acting Governor Charles Poletti's decision to ban a birth control exhibit from the New York State Fair.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, pioneer advocate of birth control education and chairman of the Birth Control Federation of America, 501 Madison Avenue, issued a statement bitterly attacking Mr. Poletti’s action as “absurd” and indicating “how misinformed” he is “in this field of public health.” She urged citizens of the state to demand a review of the case and a reconsideration of the ban, saying that “it is important to the welfare of the citizens of New York State” that Mr. Poletti’s action be rescinded.
Noting that Mr. Poletti had ruled that the planned exhibit was “calculated to contravene or change the declared policy of the state under S1145 of the state law ,” Mrs. Sanger said:
“As far back as 1918, Judge Crane, in his memorable decision, pointed out at that S1145 of the New York State laws specifically exempts physicians from the restrictions of S1142 which Mr. Poletti cites, and recognizes the right of the medical profession to provide contraceptives ‘for the cure or prevention of disease.’
“Such an exemption is all what birth control advocates have ever sought from restrictive laws, so obviously there is no need to attempt to amend existing New York State laws, or to urge any change in the existing policy which Mr. Poletti mentioned.
“In 1936 a similar interpretation of the Federal law also recognized the right of the medical profession to provide contraceptives ‘to promote the health or well-being of their patients,’ and therefore there has been no need for any legislative effort of any kind to be carried on by the Birth Control Federation of America, Inc., at this time.
“We have been informed that Mr. Poletti’s stand was taken as a result of protests by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.
“If this be so, we protest as undemocratic and inimical to public welfare the fact that pressure of a minority religious group can effectively the majority if the citizens of New York State from information they desire on a subject considered of sufficient importance as a health measure to be included in the State Public Health programs of North and South Carolina and of Alabama and in 209 health department programs in thirty-nine states.”
Mrs. Sanger said that the exhibits simply would have informed the public of the benefits of birth control by graphically calling attention to the advantages of planned families so that more families might avail themselves of services and advice physicians are legally entitled to give.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project