Margaret Sanger, Birth Control Pioneer, Dies at Age 86
Margaret Sanger, the most famous advocate of birth control in American history, died on this day at age 86. She opened the first birth control clinic in the U. S., on October 16, 1916, and was arrested for doing so a week later, along with her sister. She rejected a plea bargain on February 2, 1917, and served one month in jail.
Sanger’s career as a birth control advocate was filled with many dramatic events in addition to her arrest and jailing. Her magazine, Woman Rebel, was banned from the mails on April 2, 1914. After her release from jail in 1917, she produced a short film, Birth Control, which had one private showing on May 16, 1917, after which it was banned. No print is known to survive. She was prevented from speaking on a number of occasions: See for example, May 22, 1916 and April 16, 1929.
Sanger’s organization, the American Birth Control League, evolved into today’s Planned Parenthood Federation (see January 18, 1939).
Over the decades, political attacks on access to birth control and on Planned Parenthood continued. 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: 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/
Learn more at the timeline of the long struggle for birth control: http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/companion.asp?id=18&compID=53