American Birth Control League

Sanger    For our project we decided to research the American Birth Control league 1921-1933. We picked this topic because we wanted to learn more about how the movement in the United States got it’s start. Margaret Sanger started as a nurse where she witnessed horrible botched abortions. She found a correlation between poverty and high rates of infant mortality. Sanger believed that it should be the mothers choice to control her own body and make the conscious decision to have a child. She also did lecture tours in the United States as well as Asia and wrote many articles on birth control. Sanger is highly criticized for her views on eugenics. In 1916 Sanger and her followers opened the first birth control clinic in New York. They were arrested under the Comstock laws for advocating women’s rights to birth control and other devices. We did decide to add in research on black women of the time period and their involvement in the movement. The WPA of Harlem was the first women’s club to hold meetings on birth control. Prominent women like Ida B Wells, Harriet Tubman, and Mary Church Terrell were some of the supporters of the movement.  In our research we did find about the horrible sterilizations of black women through the 1960’s-1970’s.  We felt it was important to add this information in our presentation because it highlighted the darker side of contraception and also brought back the views of Sanger and her thoughts of eugenics.

It was somewhat difficult to find information on our topic.  Certain information did take a little longer to find and it was harder to find primary sources on the topic. As we searched for more information we were able to find a lot of articles and pictures to help with our research.  I thought it was very informative to find out that Comstock laws made it illegal to even advocate for birth control rights. We think that it is important that people know the history and the struggles that these women did face to make birth control rights accessible for women in the United States. Sanger founded what is now Planned Parenthood and we think that with the current talk of de-funding the organization it is crucial that we aren’t going backwards but forward when it comes to women’s rights. Our topic is important because it shows the resistance that Sanger actually faced although many people did not agree with her. She didn’t stop her activism even when she did get arrested and the laws weren’t in her favor. Margaret Sanger was able to make a global impact as well which helped women in Asian countries start to fight for their own rights when it came to contraception and birth control. We think that Sanger’s role in women’s rights was very important and without her advocating through her life for women who knows where we would be today. Sanger is a very controversial person when it comes to her views but, we think it is important to view both sides of the argument.

Works Cited:

(n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=017%2Fllsl017.db&recNum=0639

Reforming Their World: Women in The Progressive Era. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/progressiveera/birthcontrol.html

Sanger, M., Catt, C. C., & National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection (Library of Congress). (1922). The pivot of civilization. New York: Brentano’s, Publishers.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Margaret Sanger. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Margaret-Sanger

(n.d.). Retrieved. April 22, 2017, from https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2000/03/forum-black-women-and-pill

(n.d.). Retrieved. April 22, 2017, from http://lewiscar.sites.grinnell.edu/HistoryofMedicine/uncategorized/black-women-and-contraception/

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