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10 Jan 1916
[WOMAN REBEL Case Interview]
Fights to Teach Birth Control, Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan. 17, 1916, p. 3
Chicago Daily Tribune
Stokes, Rose Pastor
Sanger gave an interview at her home, 26 Post Avenue, on her upcoming obscenity trial.
For the speech she gave the next day, see Hotel Brevoort
Speech, Jan. 17, 1916.
birth control laws and legislation, Comstock Laws
free speech and free press
marriage, age at
Woman Rebel The, legal case
Woman Rebel, The, suppression of
Woman Rebel, The, birth control and
family size, and poverty
Sanger, Margaret, biographical details
working classes, and birth control
FIGHTS TO TEACH BIRTH CONTROL
New York,, Jan.
The trial of Mrs. Margaret H. Sanger will begin Tuesday in the federal
building before Federal Judge
Clayton, where she will be called upon to answer the charges of
disseminating literature advocating birth control. Mrs. Sanger has refused to
have any counsel, despite the advice of her friends, and is going to plead her
At a dinner Monday at the Hotel Brevoort, at which will be
present a number of her friends, Mrs. Sanger expects to explain what her case
will be in the trial. At her home at 26 Post avenue Mrs. Sanger gave a history
of the case and told what she intends to do.
Poor Families Largest.
"I found out," she said, "in my nursing experience so many facts
about the overcrowding of children and the condition of the mother and the children
that I thought something should be done. Only poor women were having large families,
and the rich women who could give their children more comfort were not having
"I studied abroad and came back with my mind made up to give to the United
States the benefit of my experience. I found that nowhere in this
country were there any facts relative to the social problems as applied to large
families or population.
Her Publication Suppressed.
"I was astonished at this and it was then that I began to publish the Woman Rebel to call attention to
the conditions, and addressed to the working women of America. The publication
seemed innocuous to me, but the postal authorities suppressed the first edition and
seven editions out of nine were suppressed and confiscated because they discussed
the most innocent side of the subject.
"My question was whether working women can afford to keep large families and whether
they are willing to hear discussion on the subject. I was not allowed to give the
message to the working women. I insisted then and now that a discussion of this was
right and fitting and the subject should be brought up.
Would Change the Law.
"If, as charged, my discussion of the subject comes under section 211 of the
obscenity law, then that section should be done away with.
"I believe sincerely that the double standard of morals for men and women is due
primarily to ignorance of birth control. Men are afraid of having large families;
therefore, they do not feel that they can marry young and have children. The result
is that they do not marry and the result is much of the immorality of today.
"I expect to conduct my own defense in my trial. I do not intend to make a high flown
and oratorical defense, and I do not see why I should go to the big expense of
having a lawyer. It will be a simple speech, for to me it is a simple subject, so I
will try to take the place of an attorney. I think--I feel sure--that I will be
acquitted, and it will be the greatest victory to the freedom of the press since the
days of our forefathers."
Many Don't Know How.
Mrs. Rose Pastor Stokes, a
member of the dinner committee, said to a reporter:
"The question has interested me very much. Every one knows that well
to do people are breaking the law regarding birth control all the time, and the
legislatures themselves join in that. They cannot understand that everybody does
not know how to control and restrict birth. An overwhelming majority of people
cannot get the knowledge.
"We see the result in ever increasing numbers of children, most of
whom die. By the time the ones who die have been buried, with the consequent
expense, nothing is left for the others to live on, and they are starved and
miserable. I think that birth control would regulate and end this."
"A Grave Social Problem."
Miss Alice Carpenter, who is also a
member of the dinner committee, said:
"I am on the side of Mrs. Sanger because I believe the problem of
birth control to be one of the grave social problems of our day. In my own
personal experience I have found many poor families who are struggling to give
their children a better education than they themselves have had and are
handicapped by the fact that there are too many mouths to feed."
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project