Margaret Sanger, "Judges With Small Families Jail Kitty Marion," Nov 1918.

Source: " Judges With Small Families Jail Kitty Marion, Birth Control Review, Nov. 1918, p. 5."


Judges With Small Families Jail Kitty Marion

IF YOU BUY this number of THE BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW from a woman whom you are unaccustomed to see selling magazines on the street, it is because Kitty Marion, of THE REVIEW staff is in jail for her convictions.

In a recent issue we told the authorities that for every woman jailed for her activities in the movement for Birth Control, ten women would rise up to do her work. We underestimated the vitality of our own cause. Instead of ten, fifteen women have volunteered to sell THE REVIEW on the street.

That was only the beginning. Wherever the news of Miss Marion's arrest and imprisonment has spread it has brought wider, deeper interest in the cause for which she is suffering. Words of encouragement come from every side. Proffers of cooperation multiply. Women who have not before taken an active interest in the Birth Control movement are awakening to the necessity of carrying forward this light.

It is peculiarly fitting that this English woman, a veteran of many fights for the rights of women, should through her dauntless courage and cheerful martyrdom, be the means of bringing home once more to the women of America the vital fact that they and they alone can win and establish their liberties.

Forty years ago, in the dock of an English prison stood Kitty Marion's countrywoman, Annie Besant, and uttered words which awoke the women of the British Empire to the brutality of the laws which prevented them from attaining a knowledge of their own beings. That first martyr to the cause of Birth Control was sentenced to prison for six months and fined €200, though the sentence was never imposed. But the fire kindled by her example swept away the vicious laws against contraceptives and today it is not unlawful in the British Empire to impart information concerning Birth Control.

Woman's martyrdom bears abundant fruit for woman's freedom. Miss Marion is a member of the staff of The Birth Control REVIEW. No member of that staff pauses at anything which will further this battle for the freedom of woman. Hence it came that every afternoon and every night, Miss Marion went among the Broadway crowds to sell and thereby advertise THE REVIEW and the Birth Control movement. Other women, inspired by her example, have come forward to do this work. Still others have volunteered to do her work in the office.

We beg to revise our previous statement. For every woman jailed for the sake of Birth Control, twenty will rise up to do her work. Miss Marion was given her choice by the court of Special Sessions. She could pay a $500 fine, or go to jail for thirty days. Instantly she choose the latter.

Whatever improvement you may note in THE REVIEW in the next few issues is due in great part to that decision upon Miss Marion's part. Money is not plentiful in the Birth Control movement, but had Miss Marion so chosen, her fine would have been paid instantly by contributors to this cause. She chose, rather, to give another proof of her great devotion.

"Put the money into THE BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW," said she, "I'll stay in jail." The trial of Kitty Marion, October 14th, was very brief. She did not deny that she had imparted the specified in formation to Agent Bamberger of the so called Society for the Prevention of Vice. She was not given an opportunity to tell in court the pitiful story of an ailing and desperate wife and a discouraged man by which Bamberger induced her to procure and give him that humane knowledge which it is still unlawful to communicate in New York. She did not apologize. She did not promise "never to do it again." She admitted the facts and received her sentence. Judge Freschi favored a fine of $250 instead of $500. Judges Kernochan and Murphy over ruled him. Judge Kernochan was particularly insistent upon punishment of women who dare "to break the law." One of the ironical features of the case is that while all three of the judges are married, one is childless, and two have but small families. One wonders why, Your Honors of the court of Special Sessions, if you think it your duty to send a woman to jail who has given information concerning contraceptives to a man who says that his wife's health and life are in danger, you, yourselves, have not large families? One wonders, Your Honors, why Kitty Marion is in jail and your families to all appearances, have been the subject of a wise and judicious limitation? Even this, however, is not the most ironical feature of the case. Bamberger, who played the agent provocateur and who receives a salary for inducing people to break the law, is still at liberty. He was not even reproved by the court. He is free to continue to draw his salary for inducing still other violations of other laws. Kitty Marion has no apology to make for her violation of a dark age statute. Neither have we one to make for her. We approve of her generous courage and we are proud of the unselfishness and fortitude with which she undergoes the penalty imposed by law for her work for women. Bamberger cannot be left to his conscience for a trapper of women assuredly has none. His case and the cases of those who like him have chosen to lead the existence of human vultures can be committed to the awakening social sense of a long outraged public. Possibly because Miss Marion has several times undergone imprisonment in England for her work as a suffragette and because she there instituted a hunger strike, she has not been committed to the workhouse on Blackwell's Island. Instead, she has been held in The Tombs which is, in some slight degree, better than the Island prison. Kitty Marion, refusing to pay a fine because she feels that the money is needed for the Birth Control movement, is a magnificent example of fearless womanhood ready to pay a man imposed price for the freedom of her sex. In the eight of that example we can but pledge ourselves anew to a constant, more unflinching devotion to the cause for which she suffers.

Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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