The Importance Of The Birth Control Movement

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In the early 20th century, Margaret Sanger began a major reform, known as the birth control movement, in order to make contraception widely available so that women could limit the size of their families. I n “I Resolved that Women should have knowledge of Contraception,” Margaret Sanger describes women’s desperate efforts to limit their family size by attempting to prevent or eliminate pregnancy and their reasons behind doing so. Included was the story of her mother’s death, which was a major contributing factor in her desire for the birth control movement. Sanger tailored her lectures towards working class women, middle-class women, and those in the medical profession who she desired to join the cause. Women in the twentieth century were …show more content…
Progressivists, such as Margaret Sanger, turned to moral persuasion and the law to try to bring about dramatic reform, such as birth control. Some religions argued that birth control was a sin such as the Roman Catholic Church. However, Sanger displayed in the excerpt examples of women from the church coming to the birth control clinic. One responded to Sanger’s question of what she would say to her priest if he asked, “It’s none of his business. My husband has a weak heart and only works 4 days a week. He gets twelve dollars, and we can barely live on it now. We have enough children.” Sanger believed every woman had the right to control her own body, regardless of what men believe, and that a woman’s only options were either to abandon their own life in order to conceive, or to terminate their pregnancies. Perilous equipment paired with unqualified doctors made abortions a risky endeavor for women. Statistically speaking, illegal operations on women caused eight thousand deaths a year in New York State alone. In retrospect, birth control would have been sufficient in nearly eliminating the risk of getting pregnant and avoiding the precarious abortions (1982, …show more content…
Abortion and the use and distribution of birth control were made illegal in the U.S. in the 1870’s as a matter of public health. Yet, a growing number of women, primarily in the upper and middle class, sought to limit their family sizes by seeking out their own methods of birth control. For example, women attempted “tricks” such as drinking various herb-teas, taking drops of turpentine on sugar, steaming over a chamber of boiling coffee or of turpentine water, inserting foreign objects into their uterus, and even of rolling down the stairs. In 1916, Progressive reformer Margaret Sanger was arrested for opening the first birth control clinic in the United States. Years after being arrested by the Comstock Act in 1914 for the publication of a newspaper advocating contraception, she fought against the Comstock Law, which made it illegal to disseminate birth control devices and information through the mail (1982, 434). Sanger was unsuccessful in getting this law overturned. Yet, this ultimately led to a later decision the U.S. court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled to allow physicians the capability of informing women about birth control known as the U.S. v. One Package court decision. The verdict ruled that objects ordered by physicians in good faith were exempted from

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