A Brief History Of Margaret Sanger Paths To The Present Essay

2072 words - 9 pages

1
Thatcher Johnson Welden
Dr. Mike Wakeford
Paths to the Present: American Ideas
27 April 2018
Word Count: 1989
The Iron Lady of Birth Control: Margaret Sanger
When it comes to social reform in the 1900s, Margaret Sanger is the woman to look to. She was born September 14th, 1879 in Corning, New York and passed away in 1966. She was one of eleven children born to Anne and Michel Higgins, a working-class Irish-American family. Her mother suffered several miscarriages which took a toll on her health and planted the seeds in Sanger’s interest in women’s health. Sanger’s father was an alcoholic. Due to this, the family lived in poverty. Sanger wanted a better life and in 1896 went to Claverack College and Hudson River Institute. Sanger married William Sanger, an architect, in 1902. A few years later, the Sangers moved to Manhattan. At the time, the area was known for its radical politics. Sanger soon joined the Women’s Committee of the New York Socialist Party and Liberal Club. In 1912, two years after moving to Manhattan, she started a campaign to educate women about sex. Sanger started her in 1912 by writing a newspaper column called "What Every Girl Should Know” for the New York Call (Goldberg.)
Through her work as a nurse, Sanger treated a number of women who had undergone back-alley abortions. She began dreaming of a "magic pill" to be used to control pregnancy. She said, “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” In 1914, Sanger started a feminist publication called The Woman Rebel, which promoted a woman's right to have an education about birth control. The magazine landed her in trouble since it was illegal to send out information on contraception through the mail. The Comstock Act of 1873 prohibited the trade in and circulation of "obscene and immoral materials." The act made sure to include publications, devices, and medications related to contraception and abortion in its definition of obscene materials. It also made mailing and importing anything related to these topics a crime (Lane.) Sanger fled to England, rather than face a possible five-year jail sentence. While there, she worked in the women's movement and researched many forms of birth control, including diaphragms, which she later smuggled back into the United States (Goldberg.)
Sanger returned to the United States in October 1915, after the charges against her were dropped. Somewhere around this time, she coined the name birth control. She then began touring to promote birth control. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. Sanger and her staff, including her sister Ethel, were arrested during a raid of the Brooklyn clinic less than two weeks after it after it opened. They were charged with providing information on contraception and fitting women for diaphragms. They spent 30 days in jail for breaking the Comstock law. Later, she appealed her conviction and scored a victory for the...

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