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Margaret Sanger, "Ethel Byrne's Hunger Strike and Federal Bill," 27 Jan 1917.

Source: " Pro-Birth Control Agitator is Forcibly Fed After Going Without Food for 103 Hours, Leavenworth Post, Jan. 28, 1917, p. 1."


New York, Jan. 27.--

The first results of the hunger strike and forcible attempts to feed Mrs. Ethel Byrne, at Blackwell's Island came tonight.

A drive on congress Tuesday by Mrs. Lillian Fassett, and others to get national legislation was being organized.

Meanwhile Mrs. Byrne, while striking in protest against her conviction and imprisonment for disseminating birth control information continued her battle, the first of its kind in the United States.

It was not until Mrs. Byrne had gone one hundred and three hours without food or water and collapsed that Commissioner Lewis established a precedent in American prison annals by ordering her forcibly fed.

"My sister," said Mrs. Margaret Sanger, leader of the birth control movement "is in a very critical condition since she was rolled in a blanket, and milk, meats and stimulants forced into her stomach through a rubber tube."

"I am reliably informed from sources other than official statements by Commissioner Lewis, that she is in a little room not in the prison hospital ward but curtained off. There are two nurses and two attendants with her all the time and I understand the attitude of everyone around her is extremely sympathetic to her."

"As for helping my sister, we are balked at every turn. The women of the committee of one hundred, Mrs. Fassett, Mrs. Amos Finch and others have therefore concentrated on getting favorable action by congress."

"A canvas of congressmen will be made by Mrs. Fassett and others and one of our friends chosen to introduce the prospective bill."

"The bill has not been completely drafted but it will seek the nullification of the federal statute against dissemination of birth control information and the establishment of the right to tell poor women who need it, all about it.

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