Margaret Sanger, "Editorial Comment," Sept 1918.
Source: " Birth Control Review, Sept. 1918, p. 9."
IF ANY SUBSCRIBERS to THE BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW failed to receive the August number of the magazine, we wish them to know that it was because that issue was ordered barred from the mails by the authorities in Washington. The reason given was, that we had printed a review and an advertisement of an important book which had been enthusiastically received in the British Empire, but which was declared to be unmailable here. Our readers know that we have been exceedingly careful to keep within the letter and the spirit of postal regulations. We did not propose to give reactionary minds in officialdom an opportunity to interfere with the work for woman's freedom to which this publication is devoted. At last, however, a cause has been found. Our answer to this attack, as to all others, is to be propaganda of the most effective kind. It will be the only answer intelligible to the type of official who is seeking to hamper the birth control movement. In the future, as in the past, we shall not intentionally violate postal regulations. But, by means of a bigger, broader, still more fearless magazine, we shall combat the spirit which led to the assault upon us. To that end we have asked our subscribers to co-operate with us in trebling the REVIEW's circulation. We intend to deal telling blows at the dark superstitions which perpetuate in America the lust of witch burning. Those who read the leading article in the suppressed number know what difficulties have been overcome in bringing out the first twelve issues of THE BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW. Said difficulties did not deter those who have made the publication a power for free womanhood. The barring of an edition from the mails, far from discouraging us, has moved us to new efforts. But it is possible that this first interference with the REVIEW may have more significance than now appears to be the case. The powers of reaction have recently taken away many of the reforms that American women have won in fifty years of toil, hardship and sacrifice. Yesterday, the Federal child labor legislation, such as it was, went to the scrap heap. Tomorrow, the attack may be wider in its scope. As for the advocates of birth control, they intend to battle in the first ditch, not the last one. With all that we have of inspiration, courage and resource, we shall hold fast to what we have gained. We shall not let up in our fight on the medieval in tolerance, which makes it possible to deny the mails of this country to a message of woman's freedom.
THE MAYOR of New York's Committee of Women on National Defense, the Division of Child Hygiene of the same city's Department of Health, the New York Milk Committee and similar agencies have united in a "save 100,000 babies" campaign. One child in every seven born in the United States dies from malnutrition or from some disease directly traceable to poverty. So the "save 100,000 babies" movement has for its slogan "Save that seventh child!" We confess to finding this a ghastly mockery and an intolerable piece of irony. The agencies quoted appeal to the mothers to do the saving, but why more mothers do not save their babies is indicated pretty clearly by a circular sent out by a charitable association, which says "Tired and despairing mothers with the telling mark of day in and day-out grind on their features, midnight retiring and five o'clock rising-keeping the tattered ends of the housework together, struggling with the everyday problems of sickness, poverty and widowhood-three thousand seven hundred such mothers and children are waiting an invitation to Sea Breeze, but we must have help if we are to continue these outings." The best that Society offers the child today is occasional charity to keep it alive, the only help that has thus far been suggested for the mother is two weeks of fresh air a year, plus a few weeks of prenatal care. But what is the matter with making birth control information free and open to all, so that seventh children shall not be born in an age when food, shelter, clothing and wholesome air are at a premium? The earlier offspring might then have a chance to grow up in decency and the mother to preserve her health. If the philanthropic reformers have not thought of that solution of the problem, we call it to their attention.
THE CARE of the insane cost the State of New York $8,320,000 last year. The total economic loss on the insane for the year is officially estimated at more than $35,000,000. The institutions for the insane in New York are overcrowded to the extent of nearly 6,000 persons. There are already 37,069 persons in public institutions for the mentally defective and it is to be presumed that if these hospitals were not now overcrowded there would be some thousands more. And the number of insane and feeble-minded is increasing. And it is still a crime to impart to the mothers of such the information concerning birth control, which would save the state $35,000,000 a year and the relatives of the unfortunates inestimable trouble and sorrow. The facts and figures given are those of the recent annual report of the State Hospital Commission. The commissioner recommended five means of preventing the increase of the number of the insane.Checking the excessive use of alcohol. Checking the ravages of syphilis. Informing the public more fully concerning mental diseases and teaching mental hygiene. Steps to eliminate extreme poverty. Extension of out patient departments of state hospitals, etc.
It did not recommend the repeal of those survivals of witch burning days, the anti-birth control statutes. So far as the committee is concerned, this direct, simple and effective means of saving this huge cost of money and human agony is still criminal. And so far as the committee is concerned, it prefers $35,000,000 worth of criminal prejudice upon the part of officials and lawmakers, to birth control.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project