1921 November 18

Margaret Sanger Gives Previously Banned Speech: “The Morality of Birth Control”


Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger gave a speech on “The Morality of Birth Control,” at the Park Theater in New York City, just five days after the police had closed down an earlier meeting of the first birth control conference in the U.S where she was scheduled to speak (see November 13, 1921). The New York Times reported that the police intervention on that occasion was “brought about at the instance of Archbishop Patrick J. Hayes of the NY Roman Catholic Archdiocese.”

Sanger’s career as a birth control advocate was filled with many dramatic events. Her magazine, Woman Rebel, was banned from the mails on April 2, 1914. She opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn on October 16, 1916. For this she was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 30 days in jail on February 2, 1917. She was prevented from speaking on a number of occasions: See for example, October 25, 1916 and April 16, 1929. A planned trip to Japan in 1949 was cancelled because of sensitivity over birth control on August 30, 1949, but she had a triumphal visit several years later.

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

Sanger: “We stand on the principle that Birth Control should be available to every adult man and woman. We believe that every adult man and woman should be taught the responsibility and the right use of knowledge. We claim that woman should have the right over her own body and to say if she shall or if she shall not be a mother, as she sees fit. (Applause.) We further claim that the first right of a child is to be desired. (Applause). While the second right is that it should be conceived in love, and the third, that it should have a heritage of sound health.”

Read Sanger’s Speech: http://gos.sbc.edu/s/sanger1.html

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

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

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!