Margaret Sanger, "Necessity of Birth Control," 3 Dec 1925.

Source: " Mrs. Sanger Addresses Social Problems Club, Barnard Bulletin, Dec. 11, 1925, p. 4."

Sanger's speech was not found; newspaper coverage was used instead. The last paragraph, regarding unrelated upcoming events, was not included.


Earl Hall was filled to its capacity, and many people were turned away on Thursday afternoon, December 3rd, when Margaret Sanger addressed the audience on the necessity of Birth Control. Before introducing the speaker, Professor William Peperell Montague, who presided, remarked that Birth Control is essential to make parenthood voluntary, not accidental; and to regulate the population--one of the greatest causes of war.

Mrs. Sanger defined birth control as the conscious control of birth rate by scientific means. According to the Malthusian theory, the natural increase of population must be checked, and it is only logical to decrease the birth rate--rather than increase the death rate--the only other alternative.

No census has been taken on the subject, but it is quite obvious that poverty, disease, high percentage of infant and maternal mortality, slums, and various other evils are most usually the outcome of large families; and small families bear the burdens of taxation and charity of the larger ones.

In the United States last year, 200,000 infants died before one year old. Milk stations, visiting nurses, clinics--everything conceivable to reduce the mortality of infants is being done today and they do succeed--but at a terrible cost, for the basic reason is one of ignorance. Year after year, these 200,000 mothers and fathers are kept ignorant--with the result of an additional 200,000 infants dying the following year.

Over-population is at the root of the problem of Child Labor; for in families where the children come too fast, they are necessarily forced to feed and clothe themselves. Until the population is regulated, there will never be peace between nations. Over-population seems to be the root of all evil.

In answer to the argument that birth control would bring about race suicide, Mrs. Sanger stated seven rules:

(1) No people who have transmissible diseases should have children. (2) No woman suffering from temporary disease should bear children. (3) If normal parents produce subnormal children, they should have no more. (4) There should be a space of at least three years between children. (5) Maturity should be reached before motherhood. (6) Parents should not have children they will not be able to support. (7) Women should have no children until two years after marriage.

Birth Control is not a question to be generally decided upon, but one of individual application. The only solution to the problem is the establishment of scientific clinics where parents may come for advice (in existence in Holland and England). Mrs. Sanger concluded with the statement that women must be free from the bondage of maternity before we can go forward to the emancipation of human races.

Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project