Margaret Sanger Don Vance, "Tucson Speech on Japan and Population," 31 Dec 1952.
Source: " Mrs. Slee Deplores Japan's Million Abortions Yearly, Tucson Daily Citizen, Dec. 31, 1952, p. 18."
Japan, a land of "exquisite courtesy, beauty and charm," and a land of "shockingly high" infant mortality, of shrines and temples and 1,000,000 abortions yearly--
This Japan is the subject of Mrs. Margaret Sanger Slee's first report to the friends and sponsors of the international planned parenthood conference. The report covers the first segment of a two months trip the far cast that ended in India with the first full-circle organization for furtherance of the birth control throughout the world.
Mrs. Slee, who became co-director and co-president of the organization, the International Committee on Planned Parenthood, was invited to speak about her work in Japan by the Mainichi press there. She had been refused admittance during the occupation period.
She spent 10 days in conferences, making speeches and observing conditions throughout the Japanese cities and countryside.
"Japan," she concluded, "is making a heroic effort to adjust herself to postwar conditions. In 1922 her territory was too small to feed and supply her people and today she has less territory to maintain the increase of 34,000,000. The questions of decreased birthrate, family limitation, population control, birth control and family planning are being discussed everywhere."
Mrs. Slee noted that two projects were operating. One sends nurses into three villages to talk to the parents and teach methods of contraception. The second is that of the population problems research group conducted by the Mainichi press.
"the need of a contraceptive, simple to adjust, cheap and harmless is almost the greatest need in Japan if she is to save herself from the consequences of an increased population," reported Mrs. Slee.
"Abortions, stillbirths, infant mortality are increasing," continued the birth control expert. "The cruel necessity of these is the only [one word illegible] she has to adjust population to arable land."
"It is reported that over 1,000,000 abortions took place in 1951. These are legal under the law. It is unfortunate that in the modern contraceptive to immunize the ovum has not been developed to meet the world-wide need. It is perhaps, the only solution to the growing problem of Japan's population."
These were her conclusions, but the report also was filled with the beauty of the country, as well as the interest of the people in her project.
Mrs. Slee tells, at one point, of traveling through the temples and gardens of the old Imperial city of Kyoto. Again she describes a trek through the slums of Tokyo by writing;
"People flocked out of their shop and doorways, thousands of them. Children in school yards ran into the street to learn what was going on. 'Sanger is here: She says no abortions... Sanger is here... she says no abortions.'"
"It is a sad thing," she observed, "that there are no clinics, no free places for these women. Desire for birth control is surely far ahead of the materials and technique to meet that need."
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project