Does the name Margaret Sanger ring a bell? Probably not. After a bit of research, I am glad I know who she is and what she did for women’s health in America and beyond. It is because of Ms. Sanger that we will mark every November 12th as Birth Control Day.
Quick historical note: Access to birth control information was prohibited in this country on grounds of obscenity in 1873 (Comstock law), and birth control did not become legal until the 1965 Supreme Court decision Criswold v Connecticut (when Sanger was 85 years old).
On November 12, 1921 Sanger was arrested on grounds of obscenity for her participation in the first National Birth Control Conference in New York City. As a nurse, she made a life-long commitment to promote, advise, and teach women of all walks of life – rich, poor, black, white – the true meaning of women’s health and empowerment through birth control awareness.
Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which later morphed into Planned Parenthood. The founding principles of the ABCL were as follows:
We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother’s conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.
Sanger also secured funding in 1961 for Dr. Gregory Pincus of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts to invent and patten “The Pill.”
As modern families in 2013, we all take for granted the work our forefathers and foremothers laid before us. If it were not for their social consciousness, empathy, and sense of personal responsibility to fight to help others, where would we all be?
Let’s toast to Margaret Sanger. To her voice, her fight, her passion. Here’s to empowering those who want to be parents and those who choice not to be.
We want to know what you think about this topic. Is this a day you’ll be celebrating?
If you need more information on birth control, please visit www.bedsider.org