Margaret Sanger, "Hatboro Neighbors Address," 31 Mar 1937.

Source: " Margaret Sanger, New York City, Speaker at Women's Meeting in Hatboro, The Bristol Daily Courier, Apr. 1, 1937, p. 17."


Margaret Sanger, New York City, Speaker at Women's Meeting in Hatboro

HATBORO, April 1--

"In a modern Democracy, the vote of the moron is just as good as that of a college professor," declared the Internationally-famous Margaret Sanger, of New York City, leader in the birth control movement throughout the United States, in an address before an overflow audience at a meeting sponsored by the Hatboro Neighbors here yesterday.

The famous birth control crusader who the world-famous Pearl S. Buck> recently called, "America's most important woman," addressed more than 500 women Montgomery, Bucks and other nearby counties.

The Baptist Church Sunday School room here was far too small to hold the entire crow so at least 200 women waited for an hour in another room and outside the meeting place for the guest speaker to give her talk the second time.

The guest speaker was introduced by Mrs. David N. Fell, Jr., of Spring Valley, chairman of the Birth Control Research Bureau of Bucks county. Mrs. Fell was introduced by Mrs. Charles Harper Smith, president of the Hatboro Neighbors and by Mrs. Francis M. Garver, chairman of the literature committee of the Neighbors, sponsors of the meeting.

Women came from as far away as Trenton to hear the noted speaker. Practically every woman's club in Bucks and Montgomery counties was represented.

Mrs. Sanger, in her opening remarks declared that the suggestion of a birth control meeting usually arouses curiosity but that is not minded in the least by those who sponsor the affair. She also paid a fine tribute to the work of the Doylestown Birth Control Clinic and before the meeting adjourned, another speaker, a Philadelphia physician in charge of the birth control work in that city, said that Doylestown was far in advance of any town in the entire country in its advance strides in birth control work.

Mrs. Sanger, who was indicted in 1915 for sending birth control pleas through the mails and who was freed of the indictment through the efforts of the President of the United States, said that she was very glad to announce that after a long and bitter fight, birth control is now legal as practiced in clinics, in hospitals and through the advice of physicians.

"It has been a long fight against misunderstanding and even bigotry," Mrs. Sanger declared. "The hour for birth control has struck. No subject has so deep a foundation. There is no other subject of equal importance that has been kept so far in the background as birth control."

"George Bernard Shaw says it is the most revolutionary idea of this century. Birth control is here to stay and you just might as well try to push back the tides of the seas as to stop birth control."

"It is a great satisfaction to see so many women turn out to a meeting like this. I look upon birth control as the keynote of a new social and moral awakening. Having the historic privilege f starting the movement, I can best describe birth control as the conscious control of the birth rate."

"We control traffic, control our automobiles, our appetites, many of our habits: why not control the birth rate. It means nothing more than intelligence when applied to power."

"When children are consciously conceived, they will be the type that are not only wanted but are worthwhile. Children of that group in my estimation will constitute an entirely new race.

"There always has been some control of the birth rate but the new methods are more civilized and are working out with our general plan."

Mrs. Sanger told the women that she has heard of no women's club anywhere in America that has gone to the public officials of the state and countries,demanding that they check upp on the inmates of our asylums, institutions for feeble-minded and demand that something be done to prevent them leaving on parole without first being sterilized or furnishing proof that they will no longer continue to bring children into the world.

"In one instance a survey show that 98 percent of the persons paroled from such institutions returned within two years, leaving back home another child," Mrs. Sanger declared.

"Not all mental defectives and morons are in our institutions, for it is possible for a moron to vote, just the same as a college professor, and that is something to think about, ladies."

"Another survey made by a Princeton authority showed that the mentality rate of 80 per cent of a large group examined was less than total that of a juvenile of 15 years."

"If we allow this differential birth rate to continue, some people with small families and others with very large families, we will have to look into the kind of people that are being born."

"Mothers who space their babies are those who live in a family that pay their doctor bills, their dentist bills and other obligations. This is the type family that can properly raise three or four babies. I refuse to criticize this group for it is this group that has to pay the taxes and the bills for the other group that believe in very large families but cannot pay. It is the latter group that must be controlled."

"There is no getting away from it, birth control will make for a better civilization. We have to put a stop to emotionalism and sentimentalism and use intelligence for a change: we have to get down to the source, the real cause. You cannot cure a cancer by burning off the top, as the old quacks used to say."

"I have no fault to find with the philanthropy and charity, but the trouble is that they do not go back far enough! Why not prevent children being born into poverty, born into disease and filth and prevent the population of our asylums and other institutions from becoming overcrowded. Social workers know exactly what is going on but the trouble has been that most of them have not lifted their voices in disapproval."

" I have often said that I would like to live long enough to see the day when children could pick their parents. I'd like to see the children ask the parents a few questions. I can hear the children asking the father for his health certificate or asking the mother how many children she has. I can hear the father in some instances answering that he has not had work for two years and is on relief and I can hear the child say, 'well, I guess I'll pass along to another candidate.'"

"It is time for the United States government to issue 'passports' for babies as well as adults going into a strange country: it is just as important, my ladies."

Mrs. Sanger returned recently from a trip through the West and South. She spoke particularly of child labor.

"Child labor will never be stopped until it is made impossible for some parents to have no more children," she declared. "I visited homes in Arizona just recently where there are eight and ten children in a family, all of them working in order to bring in enough money to provide the family budget. They have to work to keep alive. The same is true in the south and elsewhere. There is no use to be sorry for the children, but we certainly can do something about it. We are not going to legislate child labor out of existence, don't forget that! Parents that cannot control such a thing should b and must be sterilized."

Mrs. Sanger gave seven reasons why birth control should be nation-wide. She mentioned them as follows:

First: Because of parents who have a transmissible disease, because of men and women who have a similar disease, such as syphilis or because of insanity. This is the type, she said, that have no moral standard of child life, and they must be sterilized, she declared. Sterilization in no way hurts the condition of health, she said.

Second: Because of the type of a woman or man who has a disease that is not transmissible, but should postpone pregnancy until the affliction is cured.

Third: In the case of parents who look healthy but where the children have some defect. Suggest that parents of this type adopt children instead.

Fourth: Birth Control should be practiced because of the necessity of properly spacing children. There should be at leas two years' rest for the mother or three years between the birth of children. Children spaced carefully, she said, have a better chance to live longer.

Five: For economic reasons. People that can afford to have to children should not have ten. A recent survey showed that 65 per cent of the increase in the birth rate came from parents on relief. The older children in the large families usually suffer because there is not enough money to give them a proper education; they must work to help raise the smaller children.

Six: adolescence. Mrs. Sanger said she believed in early marriages, but that marriage should be postponed until at least the stage of adolescent development has passed. Certainly parents should urge children to postpone parenthood until properly developed, even though they may not prevent marriage.

Seven: Mrs. Sanger said that she believed that everyone should take a period after marriage to get acquainted, although she said that many people disagreed with her. She said that it was her opinion that two years time should be taken to actually learn to know your husband and your wife. It is unfair to both men and women to return from the honeymoon and immediately settle down to hard housework and raise a family. Where two year's time has been taken to get acquainted, marriages have been happier, the home is better organized, fear of pregnancy has gone and the children are usually finer and happier, she said.

"How can all this be done," Mrs. Sanger said. "It can be done by continence or celibacy (unmarried or one bound by religious vows of chastity.) In our work through the world we advocate that continence and celibacy is not the proper method, for those who believe in celibacy have no right to impose that condition on those who do not agree."

"Next us sterilization, and this is the very best method of birth control. It is the only sure way, the only right way, and the way that will soon be accepted and recognized, for we are progressing rapidly in that direction every day."

"Advice on proper contraception is needed. Birth control means the helping of women to have children properly and not to prevent them from having children. Birth control at last is legal and can be given by physicians and by hospitals and advice at clinics, and it is up to you as women of Montgomery and Bucks county to let this be known. It is time for all of us to pull together; we have been working in small groups behind closed doors so to speak, but birth control is now out in the open."

"Demand from your officials in Pennsylvania that no inmate be released from a criminal insane and feeble-minded institutions and from certain jails on certain charges unless he or she has been sterilized or can show some good proof that no more children will be born."

"It is time the United States government is also helping the mothers of America. You can write to them about chicken, cows, hogs, and whatnot and get all the assistance and literature that you want; enough to keep you busy reading for a year, but write to them for advice about birth control and see what you get. This condition, I am glad to say will soon change."

"As women leaders you have a spiritual responsibility to perform. cut your annual charity bequests in half and give the other half to the birth control movement and you will be doing something worthwhile."

A very fine volunteer offering was taken, the proceeds gong to the Doylestown Birth Control Clinic.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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