Margaret Sanger, "Editorial Comment," Jun 1918.
Source: " Birth Control Review, June 1918, p. 16."
EVEN CONFERENCES are human. Each has a spirit of its own and it is this spirit that counts and makes such gatherings useful. The keynote of the recent Birth Control Conference in New York was struck when workers in the movement testified that everywhere they found a greedy acceptance that birth control is a necessity for women. They found it easy to convince people of its desirability and expediency even when doubt was felt at first. War has opened the eyes of women to their own position in the world. What birth control advocates now need in their work is a classification of facts, scientific facts on health, facts on population, increase and decrease, facts as to what the laws are in different countries and different states. They want facts as to what doctors can legally do now and how clinics can be legally opened. They want to know why so many physicians are indifferent and ignorant regarding contraceptive methods. The facts are scattered through many volumes, some of which cannot be had by the layman. The birth control movement now wants accurate knowledge of all these things made readily available for their use in a campaign of education. It is a hopeful note. It shows the workers in the movement feel victory coming soon. We wish to add a word of gratitude and appreciation to the splendid work of Mrs. Mary Ware Dennett who organized the Conference and also to the devoted spirit of Mrs. Amos Pinchot who though constantly active in various war activities, has rightly proclaimed that standing by the birth control movement today is a great national duty toward generations yet to be.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH is the bigotted, relentless enemy of birth control. It makes no bones about its stand. This movement threatens its hold upon the poor and the ignorant, and probably only the existence of restraining laws prevents it from applying the thumb-screw and the rack to all those who believe in woman's right to practise voluntary motherhood. But, since the methods of the Inquisition are out of date, it would compromise by clapping us all into jail. "The birth-controllers are at it again!" runs a medieval editorial in The Holy Name Journal, the organ of one of the most powerful Catholic societies in America. "Prison starvation seems but to have whetted their desire to continue the propaganda for what will ultimately be the extermination of the masses upon which our country must rely in the future." Observe the admission that our propaganda (as the Holy-Namers see it) "will ultimately" succeed. "Aside from its ethical and moral depravity," the article goes on to say, "the birth-controllers are disseminating a doctrine that is decidedly shortsighted and subversive of even the material welfare of the land. We need our teeming masses now, we shall need them more in the future. Would it not be a wise move on the part of the Government to intern all birth-controllers and suppress their teaching? It would be a prudent war measure." Do we expect ever to win over the Catholic Church to our way of thinking? Not right away. We are aware that it will fight to the last ditch against this ideal. But we propose to go on enrolling Catholics under our banner of progress-by the thousands today, by the hundreds of thousands in a year or two. In the long run, reason will inevitably triumph over darkness and superstition. Even the Catholic Church will yield to the force of public opinion.
PRIESTS AND MINISTERS of many Christian sects (outside of the Catholic Church) have been among the converts to birth control during recent years. That men of their calling should join us has not sent us into special ecstasies of tickled vanity and gratified respectability. We have welcomed them as individuals, as intelligent persons who have had the courage of their opinions in the face of a good deal of social opposition. So the fact that the Rev. William Ralph Inge, dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, has recently come out in favor of birth control and eugenics does not impress us merely because he is a dean. We consider it deserving of comment, because in his public statement on the subject Dr. Inge pointed out that a reduction of births will be necessary to combat unemployment after the war. He is reported as saying that this movement would "save and make happy the population." Church of England incumbents are paid by the State, and the British Government is clamoring for babies. Consequently, by telling the plain truth at this time Dr. Inge proved himself to be an honest and brave man, and we take off our hats to him. It is interesting to note that he asserted that the average lifetime has increased one-third during the last sixty years-an additional reason for the general practice of birth control.
A REGRETTABLY FALSE idea of present conditions in the birth control movement has been caused in some quarters. The Birth Control League of New York held a meeting early in May, at which Hiram Myers was unanimously elected president, Mrs. Eugene P. Stone, vice-president, J.J. Goldstein, treasurer, and Elizabeth Stuyvesant, secretary. An erroneous newspaper report of the proceedings at this meeting stated that most of the leagues which had been founded following the prosecution of various leaders of the movement had now become inactive or gone out of business. "There seems to be something in the private nature of the subject," an ex-officer was said to have declared, "which makes it unsuited for a public movement." The misleading nature of the above statements must be apparent to the members of the twenty or more active leagues listed in our directory on Page 2. It is one of the few radical movements which has not been destroyed by America's participation in the war. The New York Women's Publishing Company has been formed to finance this magazine, and is offering $10 shares in a $10,000 fund to our friends and supporters. We have a growing circulation and have never felt more hopeful of the future.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project