1936 December 7

OK to Import Japanese Diaphragms

 

Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger ordered one of a new type of diaphragm (referred to as a pessary) that had been developed in Japan. They were seized by Customs officials when they arrived in the U.S. They were acting under the 1930 Tariff Act, which included the provisions of the 1873 Comstock Act (passed on March 3, 1873) that outlawed the distribution of birth control information and devices. In U.S. v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries, decided on this day, the U.S. Court of Appeals held that the ban on birth control devices was “unreasonable” and overturned the ban. Sanger said that the decision “firmly establishes the precedent that contraceptive material may be lawfully admitted into this country and by implication disseminated through the mails in this country if intended for legitimate use.”

The struggle for legal access to birth control information and devices in the U.S. was a long one. Margaret Sanger was arrested for opening the first birth control clinic on October 16, 1916. Four months later, she spent a month in jail for her crime. The major breakthrough was the landmark Supreme Court decision, in Griswold v. Connecticut on June 7, 1965, which struck down a ban on contraceptives in the state and established a constitutional right to privacy. The first federally supported birth control clinic opened on November 2, 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Congress passed the first law providing federal financial assistance for family planning services on December 24, 1970.

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

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

Learn more at a timeline on birth control: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=52188

Find a Day

Go
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

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!