Margaret Sanger, "Talk with the Husbands of El Paso Mothers' Health Clinic Patients ," 2 Mar 1939.
Source: " Mother Should Have Privilege Of Spacing babies, Mrs. Sanger Tells El Paso Husbands, El Paso Times, Mar. 3, 1939 Says Birth Control Doesn't Kill Life, El Paso Herald Post, Mar. 3, 1939."
Sanger's talk was not found; newspaper coverage was used instead. For her speech the night before, see El Paso Mothers' Health Clinic Speech, Mar. 1, 1939.
Birth control is not abortion, is not illegal and is no longer guesswork, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, leading advocate of birth control, assured 15 El Paso husbands at a meeting in the Mothers’ Health Center, 1820 East Rio Grande Street, Thursday night, when she appealed that mothers for the sake of their own health be given the right to space the births of their children.
A mother’s body is depleted of many important chemicals at the birth of her child, and it requires six months for her to return to normal, Mrs. Sanger said. It is a crime for these mothers to become pregnant again before their bodies are normal, she maintained.
“Every woman, rich or poor, robust or delicate, should have the right to space her children at least two years apart in order that she may be properly rested before renewing the ordeal of childbirth,” Mrs. Sanger said.
Four out of seven tuberculosis women have died in pregnancy, she said. Women suffering from tuberculosis, heart trouble, goiter, high blood pressure and other diseases should not have children, yet they might marry and live happy lives without them, she said.
Persons, fathers or mothers, with communicable diseases certainly should not have children, she insisted. There is more patriotism in spacing children or not having any, she said, than there is in bearing children haphazardly or children afflicted.
Decidedly in favor of early marriages, Mrs. Sanger said she is not in favor of adolescents having children. Boys between the ages of 14 and 23, and girls between the ages of 12 and 22 are in that adolescent period when the nervous system is under an intense strain and the bones are still developing. They should postpone parenthood until their own bodies are completely developed, she said.
Even more mature newlyweds should postpone parenthood for a few years, she said, and spend the first two years becoming acquainted and adjusted to insure many years of happy married life.
“We are more ignorant about women today than we are about cows and chickens,” she said. “A farmer can write to the Department of Agriculture and get information about his cows and chickens and hogs, how to make them healthy, heavier and bear strong offspring. But let someone write and as how a woman might control births and raise stronger and healthier children and no information is forthcoming, or if it is, it is to the effect that you are breaking the law or being immoral.”
Birth control does not, as is frequently argued, make women sterile, she said. Statistics from birth control clinics show women practice birth control for periods of years and still have children when they want them and when they can afford them, she said.
“Birth control is no longer guesswork,” Mrs. Sanger said. “We know now what birth control will do.”
Fifteen husbands sat in the neat living room of the Mother's Health Center at 1820 East Rio Grande street last night and listened to Mrs. Margaret Sanger, noted birth control advocate, tell of the meaning and the purpose of birth control as sponsored by the Birth Control Federation of America. The men's wives are patients at the birth control center.
After her talk the husbands crowded around Mrs. Sanger thanking her and asking her questions about her work. The group stayed at the Center and talked to the nurse, Mrs. Gillespie, after Mrs. Sanger left.
"I have read your books, one many told her.
Another rode in the automobile with Mrs. Sanger and Mrs. Charles A. Goetting, president of the local board for the Center, and asked questions and told of arguments against Mrs. Sanger with which he had been confronted. Mrs. Sanger listened with interest.
“It is untrue that practice of birth control kills life or that it makes people who practice it sterile,” Mrs. Sanger said at the meeting.
“There is no life at the time that birth control is practiced. The thing we beg of the wives who are in no condition to bear children is to take the trouble to prevent conception. We know now that birth control is no longer guess work. We know what it will do.
“No woman with tuberculosis, bad kidneys, heart disease and other diseases, should become pregnant,” she said. “No couple should have children when either has a disease.
“We say that every woman should have the right to space her children, whether she is rich or poor, well or sick. Two years is the minimum spacing for children. Three years is better. Birth takes chemicals out of a woman’s body.
All couples should wait one or two years after marriage to have children to give themselves time to get acquainted, to have spiritual and mental adjustment, she said. She favors early marriages.
“There would be fewer separations if couples followed this rule,” she said.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project