Margaret Sanger, "Letter to the Editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun," 27 Feb 1940.

Source: " She Rubs Her Eyes, Baltimore Evening Sun, Mar. 4, 1940."

She Rubs Her Eyes

To the Editor of the Evening Sun- Sir:

I have recently returned from Mexico and find among the material awaiting my attention a copy of your editorial of January 29, headed "Is Margaret Sanger Rubbing Her Eyes?" Yes, truly she is. . . at the fact that the latest Gallup poll reports that seventy-seven per cent of the American people at the present time not only approve of birth control but now recognize its necessity as a Government health service... also to read that the mother of the President of the United States "sat in" at a birth control luncheon and heard stated publicly, what she doubtless already knew privately, that the President’s wife believed in birth control.

Yes, Mr. Editor, the landscape has changed and I am reminded of Mr. Whistler’s statement when a friend commented on the similarity of a scene they were looking at to one of Mr. Whistler’s etchings. The painter remarked, "Yes, yes, nature is coming up."

Still, Mr. Editor, I am keeping my fingers crossed. Birth control has made certain progress, but oh how long it has taken to do so little! Only 500 clinics established in a country of 130,000,000 people. And it has taken twenty-four years for this to be done.

Birth control is so obviously right and humane that the wonder to me all these years has been, "What’s the matter with people in high places? Why don’t they speak out and stand up for an idea so fundamentally sound?" I’ve been rubbing my eyes for twenty-three years in wonder at the lack of interest that public health officials displayed... Now during the past year, North Carolina has announced its birth-control program. South Carolina has recently followed. . . Other states, we hope, will soon dare to follow.

But in the meantime, we shall continue to lose 159,000 mothers and babies each year, sixty per cent, of them needlessly, as Dr. Parran has himself stated. Mothers will bear children too close together, lessening their own chances for survival, as well as their babies’; pregnancies will end in abortions, the cause of twenty-five per cent of our maternal deaths; children will be crowded out of life by others arriving too soon. Add to all this senseless waste of mothers who do not die, but live on, damaged in body and spirit, ever in fear and dread from year to year.

These same conditions which prompted some of us to try to save these women from their misery twenty-five years ago still exist, and are known to all who read: yet, except for a few privately interested groups, little help is given these women- none at all by our national health agencies.

Margaret Sanger Tucson, Ariz., Feb. 27

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