1921 November 1

American Birth Control League Founded

 

The American Birth Control League was created on this day through a merger of the National Birth Control League and the Voluntary Parenthood League. Led by Margaret Sanger, the new league became the leading birth control advocacy group in the country. The merger and the new organization set the stage for the first national birth control conference, in New York City, that began on November 11, 1921. The police shut down the final day of the conference, however, on November 13, 1921.

The American Birth Control League was rivaled in the 1920s and early 1930s by Mary Ware Dennett, working through the Voluntary Parenthood League. Dennett was herself a prominent sex education and birth control advocate. See April 23, 1929 and March 30, 1930 for the famous obscenity case involving her sex education pamphlet for children, The Sex Side of Life.

The American Birth Control League eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (see January 18, 1939).

Over the decades, birth control and Planned Parenthood continued to come under political attack. In the summer of 2015 an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, released a series of videos which had been secretly recorded and then selectively edited to create the false impression that Planned Parenthood had been selling fetal tissue obtained from abortions. The videos sparked political attacks on Planned Parenthood from Republican Governors and presidential candidates. On September 29, 2015, Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards replied to criticisms of the organization in a long hearing before the House of Representatives.

Read: Linda Gordon, The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America, 3rd ed. (2007)

Check out Planned Parenthood today: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

Learn more about Margaret Sanger: Ellen Chesler, Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America (1992)

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