Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control, 1945," 1946.

Source: " Britannica Book of the Year (1946), p. 126-27."

For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, see Birth Control, 1941 ; Birth Control, 1942 ; Birth Control, 1943 ; Birth Control, 1944 ; Birth Control, 1946 ; Birth Control, 1947 ; Birth Control, 1948 ; Birth Control, 1949 ; Birth Control, 1950 ; Birth Control, 1951 ; Birth Control, 1952 ; Birth Control, 1953 ; Birth Control, 1954 ; Birth Control, 1955 ; Birth Control, 1956 ; Birth Control, 1957 ; Birth Control, 1958


Birth Control.

The activities of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (formerly the Birth Control Federation of America), through its 347 state leagues and committees and 599 clinics, were given material support and stimulation by events of 1945, which found child spacing services either through clinics or referral systems. available in every state except Connecticut and Massachusetts. These were in 1945 the only states retaining legal barriers which prevented physicians prescribing birth control under any condition.

Legal Decisions.-- Two pertinent decisions were handed down in 1945 by the district court of appeals in Washington, D.C. The first, a permanent injunction barring the postmaster general from interfering with the mailing of the Consumer's Union "Report on Contraceptive Material"; the second, overruling the postmaster general’s mailing ban on Paul Popenoe's pamphlet, "Preparing for Marriage."

In Connecticut a bill to permit physicians to prescribe birth control for patients in poor health was killed in committee, although a Roper survey made just previous to the bill’s introduction revealed that 85% of the state’s adult voters were in favor of changing existing laws.

Medical and Public Health.-- Dr. William W. Herrick, president of the New York Academy of Medicine, New York city, headed a committee of 40 of the city’s distinguished physicians who presented a program on "Responsibility for the Health of Tomorrow’s Family" at the federation’s 24th annual dinner. Dinner speakers included Dr. R. C. Williams, assistant U.S. surgeon-general, U.S. public health service; Dr. Edward A. Schumann; and Lt. Col. Roy R. Grinker, medical executive, Army Air Force Convalescent hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla. A luncheon address by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, before a symposium of social agencies interested in postwar family health, including planned parenthood, was broadcast over a national network.

Temperature chars to assist in determining optimum fertility were made available to physicians by the federation’s medical committee, to aid in the treatment of infertility. This phase of the planned parenthood program was increased with establishment of added infertility services or referral systems in various parts of the country.

From a study of 7,000,000 births, Dr. Jacob Yerushalmy, principal statistician of the U.S. public health service, published a report advocating an optimum interval between births to decrease the number of stillbirths.

Research.-- To stimulate research in the field of human fertility, the Albert and Mary Lasker foundation made the first of its two annual awards of $500 each to the scientist and public health official making significant contributions during the year. Awards for 1945 went to Dr. John MacLeod, department of anatomy, Cornell University Medical college, Ithaca, N.Y., for research in the motility of the Mississippi state board of health for including planned parenthood in his state’s public health program to improve infant and maternal health.

Education.-- The publication of two new patient pamphlets, "Planning to Have a Baby?" and "The Soldier Takes a Wife" contributed materially to the large amount of literature requested during the year. "To Those Denied a Child" and "Population and Peace," a reprint of an address by Dr. Henry Pratt Fairchild at the University of Virginia, were also in great demand. Quantities of technical manuals and other planned parenthood literature were sent on request to physicians, educators, health officer, clergymen and social workers.

Social Work.-- National Social Work Advisory committee was organized to give professional advice on the social work program. The Y.W.C.A. announced its resolution favouring "the principles of planned parenthood." Planned parenthood literature was included by the National Publicity council in its mailings to social agencies throughout the country, many of which ordered further literature for distribution.

Work With Negroes.-- A second consultant on work with Negroes was added to the national staff, and several state organizations employed Negro field workers and included Negro members in their executive committees. A model clinic, the Hannah Stone Planned Parenthood centre, was established in Harlem district, New York city, to aid in reducing stillbirth, infant and maternal mortality, which is twice that of other parts of the city. Following an intensive study, the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers drew up a discussion outline of planned parenthood to be distributed to Negro community groups.

Religion.- A syllabus on marriage and family counseling was published by the federation’s National Clergyman's Advisory council and made available for us in seminaries, community training schools and to individual clergymen. Army and navy chaplains made wide use of the G.I. pamphlet, "The Soldier Takes a Wife," and the library of congress translated the pamphlet into braille for blinded veterans. The Illinois league for planned parenthood added 500 ministers and rabbis to its Clergyman’s Advisory committee and a number of other state organizations established similar committees.

Press and Radio.-- Eighty articles reflecting favourable planned parenthood attitudes appeared in national popular and technical magazines during 1945. The announcement of the federation’s two new pamphlets, (see Education, above) attracted considerable newspaper comment, and wire services carried the story throughout the country. Cordial relations with many local radio stations were strengthened and both National Broadcasting Company and org system carried important annual meeting speakers. The Mutual Broadcasting system requested a speaker to discuss "The Soldier Takes a Wife" during a national news cast. The Houston (Texas) Maternal health centre produced a 15 minute transcription which is available to all planned parenthood groups for local broadcast.

International.-- Interest in planned parenthood showed new gains throughout the world with the ending of World War II. In England, governmental inquiries disclosed that economic and national insecurity, not the knowledge of birth control, was the determining factor in the declining birth rate. China and Japan took official steps to adopt birth control measures to help solve their problems of overpopulation. Students of demography reported that India must include birth control in its health program if the high infant and maternal mortality was to be reduced. The western world learned of a ruling of the grand mufti of Egypt in 1937 grating legal and religious permission for the practice of birth control. (See also BIRTH STATISTICS.) (M. Sr.)


Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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