1929 April 15

NYC Birth Control Clinic Raided, Dr. Hannah Stone Arrested


New York City police raided the Clinical Research Bureau, a birth control medical center, and arrested its Medical Director, Dr. Hannah Stone. The founder of the clinic, birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger was not arrested, however. The police seized books, diaphragms, forceps, and other items. The issue was whether a medical doctor could legally give contraceptive advice under New York law.

The Clinical Research Bureau, with its highly euphemistic name, opened in 1921 and became the first permanent birth control clinic in America.

Margaret Sanger had opened the first birth control clinic in America on October 16, 1916.  She and her sister were both arrested and serve  month in jail each for violating New York state law on birth control. In the appeal of Sanger’s conviction, the court upheld her conviction but also ruled that doctors were not covered by the New York State law outlawing the distribution of birth control information and devices. Evidently, however, the issue was still unresolved at the time of Dr. Stone’s arrest on this day.

The fight for public access to birth control devices and information was a long one. See, for example, the notorious 1973 Comstock Act (passed on March 3, 1873), which outlawed the distribution of devices and information for many decades. The Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law banning birth control devices on June 7, 1965, and established a constitutional right to privacy. Congress passed the first law providing federal funds for family planning services on December 24, 1970. National Condom Week began to be celebrated on February 14, 1978.

Margaret Sanger’s eulogy for Dr. Hannah Stonehttp://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=238616.xml

Read a biography of Sanger: Ellen Chesler, Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America (1992)

Learn more about Sanger: https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/margaret-sanger/

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

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