Margaret Sanger, "New York Herald Tribune Interview," 6 Sept 1941.

Source: " Totalitarians Called U.S. Foes of Birth Control, New York Herald Tribune, Sept. 6, 1941."


'Totalitarians' Called U.S. Foes of Birth Control

Mrs. Margaret Sanger, pioneer advocate of birth control education and chairman of the Birth Control Federation of America, said yesterday that she had information that there was an organized campaign under way, instigated by “the totalitarian countries,” to wreck the birth-control movement in the United States.

The protests which led to the barring of a birth-control exhibit at the New York State Fair at Syracuse last week and the more recent barring of exhibits at the Mineola Fair at Mineola, L.I., and at a fair at Detroit, are the first outward signs, she said, of “an insidious campaign to break up our movement.”

“You are going to see it more and more,” she asserted, “closing up our clinics, stopping our meetings and banishing our exhibits.”

The fifty-seven-year-old leader of the movement, which on Oct. 16 will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening of the first birth control clinic, in the United States, said that she was frankly alarmed at the situation.

Sitting in the library of the Margaret Sanger Bureau, 17 West Sixteenth Street, she said that she was not yet prepared to offer concrete evidence of her charge that the latest action against her movement was the result of subversive influence from abroad. The only way to fight it, she asserted, was for birth-control advocates to redouble their efforts to make birth-control advice part of the regular public health system.

Asked what interest the totalitarian countries would have in interfering with birth-control here, Mrs. Sanger explained that the question of population is one very close to the European dictators. “They know,” she said, “that if birth-control is done away with here misery and poverty will abound in this country and only in countries where such conditions exist can a dictatorship take hold.”

The birth-control pioneer was particularly bitter at the action of Lieutenant Governor Charles Poletti who, as Acting Governor, issued the ruling which resulted in the barring of the exhibit at the New York State Fair and indirectly in the taking of similar action at the Mineola Fair, which will be open from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13.

Characterizing Mr. Poletti’s ruling that the birth-control advocates seek to contravene state law as “the most stupid interference with the movement in twenty-five years,” Mrs. Sanger said that by his ruling “he played directly into the hands of totalitarian interests in this country.”

As a result, she stated, what was planned as a celebration on the forthcoming twenty-fifth anniversary will take the form of a nation-wide protest. Everywhere where there are groups affiliated with the Birth Control Federation of America there will be protests on the anniversary date, she announced.

Mrs. Sanger recalled the opening of the first birth-control clinic on Oct. 16 1916, at 46 Amboy Street, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. In the four days that it remained open before the police closed it, she said, she, her sister, Mrs. Ethel Byrne, both of whom were nurses, and a few associates spoke to 480 women who flocked to the little clinic for advice. Somewhat wistfully, Mrs. Sanger recalled that she and her sister “did” thirty days in the Queens County jail when they lost the test case which grew out of their arrest at the clinic. Now, she reported, there are 619 clinics throughout the country.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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