1916 May 22

Margaret Sanger Speech Cancelled in St. Louis


A scheduled speech by birth control advocate Margaret Sanger at the Victoria Theater in St. Louis was cancelled because of her views. Roger Baldwin, future head the ACLU and an active civic leader in St. Louis, helped arrange for her to speak at the City Club the next day and at the Town Club that evening.

This event was one of many encounters with the law in Sanger’s long crusade for  birth control. She opened the first birth control clinic in America on October 16, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York, and was arrested a week later on October 25, 1916. On February 2, 1917 she rejected an offered plea bargain and was sentenced to a month in jail. Years later, she appeared on stage in Boston on April 16, 1929 with a gag in her mouth to protest the fact that she had been banned from speaking in the city by Mayor James Curley.

Sanger’s organization, the American Birth Control League, evolved into today’s Planned Parenthood Federation (see January 18, 1939).

Birth control and Planned Parenthood in particular continued to come under political attack over the years. 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.

Watch a short biography of Sanger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ndQXLx3pdA

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/

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