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Sanger popularized the term "birth control", opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Sanger used her writings and speeches primarily to promote her way of thinking. She was prosecuted for her book Family Limitation under the Comstock Act in She was afraid of what would happen, so she fled to Britain until she knew it was safe to return to the US.

However, Sanger drew a sharp distinction between birth control and abortion and was opposed to abortion through the bulk of her career. Sanger remains an admired figure in the American reproductive rights movement.


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In , Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, which led to her arrest for distributing information on contraception , after an undercover policewoman bought a copy of her pamphlet on family planning. Sanger felt that in order for women to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, they needed to be able to determine when to bear children. She also wanted to prevent so-called back-alley abortions , [8] which were common at the time because abortions were illegal in the United States.

In New York City, she organized the first birth control clinic staffed by all-female doctors, as well as a clinic in Harlem with an all African-American advisory council, [11] where African-American staff were later added. She died in , and is widely regarded as a founder of the modern birth control movement. Michael Hennessey Higgins had emigrated to the United States at age 14 and joined the Army as a drummer at age 15, during the Civil War.

After leaving the army, Michael studied medicine and phrenology , but ultimately became a stonecutter, making stone angels, saints, and tombstones. Higgins was a Catholic who became an atheist and an activist for women's suffrage and free public education. Anne was born in Ireland. Her parents brought the family to Canada during the Potato Famine.

She married Michael in Sanger was the sixth of eleven surviving children, [17] and spent much of her youth assisting with household chores and caring for her younger siblings. In , she married the architect William Sanger and gave up her education. In , after a fire destroyed their home in Hastings-on-Hudson , the Sangers abandoned the suburbs for a new life in New York City. Margaret Sanger worked as a visiting nurse in the slums of the East Side , while her husband worked as an architect and a house painter. Already imbued with her husband's leftist politics, Margaret Sanger also threw herself into the radical politics and modernist values of pre-World War I Greenwich Village bohemia.

She joined the Women's Committee of the New York Socialist party, took part in the labor actions of the Industrial Workers of the World including the notable Lawrence textile strike and the Paterson silk strike and became involved with local intellectuals, left-wing artists, socialists and social activists, including John Reed , Upton Sinclair , Mabel Dodge and Emma Goldman. Sanger's political interests, emerging feminism and nursing experience led her to write two series of columns on sex education entitled "What Every Mother Should Know" —12 and "What Every Girl Should Know" —13 for the socialist magazine New York Call.

By the standards of the day, Sanger's articles were extremely frank in their discussion of sexuality, and many New York Call readers were outraged by them. Other readers, however, praised the series for its candor. One stated that the series contained "a purer morality than whole libraries full of hypocritical cant about modesty". During her work among working-class immigrant women, Sanger met women who underwent frequent childbirth, miscarriages and self-induced abortions for lack of information on how to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Access to contraceptive information was prohibited on grounds of obscenity by the federal Comstock law and a host of state laws.

Seeking to help these women, Sanger visited public libraries, but was unable to find information on contraception. Afterward, Sadie begged the attending doctor to tell her how she could prevent this from happening again, to which the doctor simply advised her to remain abstinent. A few months later, Sanger was called back to Sadie's apartment — only this time, Sadie" died shortly after Sanger arrived.

She had attempted yet another self-induced abortion. This story — along with Sanger's rescue of her unwanted niece Olive Byrne from the snowbank in which she had been left—marks the beginning of Sanger's commitment to spare women from the pursuit of dangerous and illegal abortions. Given the connection between contraception and working-class empowerment, Sanger came to believe that only by liberating women from the risk of unwanted pregnancy would fundamental social change take place.

She launched a campaign to challenge governmental censorship of contraceptive information through confrontational actions. Sanger became estranged from her husband in , and the couple's divorce was finalized in This page pamphlet contained detailed and precise information and graphic descriptions of various contraceptive methods.

In August Margaret Sanger was indicted for violating postal obscenity laws by sending The Woman Rebel through the postal system. Rather than stand trial, she fled the country.

Margaret Sanger spent much of her exile in England, where contact with British neo-Malthusians such as Charles Vickery Drysdale helped refine her socioeconomic justifications for birth control. She shared their concern that over-population led to poverty, famine and war. During her trip to England, she was also profoundly influenced by the liberation theories of Havelock Ellis , under whose tutelage she sought not just to make sexual intercourse safer for women but more pleasurable. Another notable person she met around this time was Marie Stopes , who had run into Sanger after she had just given a talk on birth control at a Fabian Society meeting.

Stopes showed Sanger her writings and sought her advice about a chapter on contraception. Early in , Margaret Sanger's estranged husband, William Sanger, gave a copy of Family Limitation to a representative of anti-vice politician Anthony Comstock. William Sanger was tried and convicted, spending thirty days in jail while attracting interest in birth control as an issue of civil liberty. In , Slee would smuggle diaphragms into New York through Canada [19]: Some countries in northwestern Europe had more liberal policies towards contraception than the United States at the time, and when Sanger visited a Dutch birth control clinic in , she learned about diaphragms and became convinced that they were a more effective means of contraception than the suppositories and douches that she had been distributing back in the United States.

Diaphragms were generally unavailable in the United States, so Sanger and others began importing them from Europe, in defiance of United States law. On October 16, , Sanger opened a family planning and birth control clinic at 46 Amboy Street in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn , the first of its kind in the United States.

Sanger continued seeing some women in the clinic until the police came a second time. This time, Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne , were arrested for breaking a New York state law that prohibited distribution of contraceptives. Sanger was also charged with running a public nuisance. She was force-fed, the first woman hunger striker in the US to be so treated. Crane of the New York Court of Appeals issued a ruling which allowed doctors to prescribe contraception. We hold that children should be 1 Conceived in love; 2 Born of the mother's conscious desire; 3 And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health.

Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied. After Sanger's appeal of her conviction for the Brownsville clinic secured a court ruling that exempted physicians from the law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptive information to women provided it was prescribed for medical reason , she established the Clinical Research Bureau CRB in to exploit this loophole.

In China she observed that the primary method of family planning was female infanticide, and she later worked with Pearl Buck to establish a family planning clinic in Shanghai. Sanger invested a great deal of effort communicating with the general public. From onward, she frequently lectured in churches, women's clubs, homes, and theaters to workers, churchmen, liberals, socialists, scientists, and upper-class women.

She wrote several books in the s which had a nationwide impact in promoting the cause of birth control. The first, My Fight for Birth Control , was published in and the second, more promotional version, Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography , was published in During the s, Sanger received hundreds of thousands of letters, many of them written in desperation by women begging for information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Sanger worked with African American leaders and professionals who saw a need for birth control in their communities. In , James H. The clinic was directed by a member advisory board consisting of black doctors, nurses, clergy, journalists, and social workers.

The clinic was publicized in the African-American press as well as in black churches, and it received the approval of W. From to Sanger was an honorary delegate of the Birth Control Federation of America, which included a supervisory role—alongside Mary Lasker and Clarence Gamble —in the Negro Project, an effort to deliver birth control to poor black people.

To emphasize the benefits of hiring black community leaders to act as spokesmen, she wrote to Gamble:. We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. New York University's Margaret Sanger Papers Project says that though the letter would have been meant to avoid the mistaken notion that the Negro Project was a racist campaign, conspiracy theorists have fraudulently attempted to exploit the quotation "as evidence she led a calculated effort to reduce the black population against their will".

In , Sanger formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in order to lobby for legislation to overturn restrictions on contraception. The diaphragm was confiscated by the United States government, and Sanger's subsequent legal challenge led to a court decision which overturned an important provision of the Comstock laws which prohibited physicians from obtaining contraceptives. This contraception court victory was the culmination of Sanger's birth control efforts, and she took the opportunity, now in her late 50s, to move to Tucson, Arizona, intending to play a less critical role in the birth control movement.

In spite of her original intentions, she remained active in the movement through the s. In , Sanger helped found the International Committee on Planned Parenthood, which evolved into the International Planned Parenthood Federation in , and soon became the world's largest non-governmental international women's health, family planning and birth control organization. Sanger was the organization's first president and served in that role until she was 80 years old. John Rock, Harvard gynecologist, to investigate clinical use of progesterone to prevent ovulation.

Retrieved November 29, Sanger died of congestive heart failure in in Tucson, Arizona , aged 86, about a year after the U. Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut , which legalized birth control in the United States. While researching information on contraception, Sanger read treatises on sexuality including The Psychology of Sex by the English psychologist Havelock Ellis and was heavily influenced by it.

She also blamed Christianity for the suppression of such discussion. Sanger opposed excessive sexual indulgence. She wrote that "every normal man and woman has the power to control and direct his sexual impulse. Men and women who have it in control and constantly use their brain cells thinking deeply, are never sensual. It would not be difficult to fill page upon page of heart-rending confessions made by young girls, whose lives were blighted by this pernicious habit, always begun so innocently.

Sanger opposed censorship throughout her career. Sanger grew up in a home where orator Robert Ingersoll was admired. Over the course of her career, Sanger was arrested at least eight times for expressing her views during an era in which speaking publicly about contraception was illegal. In response she stood on stage, silent, with a gag over her mouth, while her speech was read by Arthur M.

After World War I , Sanger increasingly appealed to the societal need to limit births by those least able to afford children. The affluent and educated already limited their child-bearing, while the poor and uneducated lacked access to contraception and information about birth control. Sanger's view of eugenics was influenced by Havelock Ellis and other British eugenicists, who held that environmentally acquired traits were inherited by one's progeny. This would lead to a betterment of society and the human race.

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She continually rejected their approach. In "The Morality of Birth Control", a speech, she divided society into three groups: Sanger's eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods, and full family planning autonomy for the able-minded, as well as compulsory segregation or sterilization for the "profoundly retarded".

Margaret Sanger justified her decision to speak to a Ku Klux Klan group by explaining, "to me any aroused group is a good group. Margaret Sanger was never herself a racist, but she lived in a profoundly bigoted society, and her failure to repudiate prejudice — especially when it was manifest among proponents of her cause — has haunted her ever since. During the years of her greatest influence she opposed abortion and sharply distinguished between birth control, which she saw as a fundamental right of women, and access to abortion, which she did not see as such a right.

Flyers she distributed to women exhorted them in all capitals: Sanger's writings are curated by two universities: Sanger's story also features in several biographies, including David Kennedy 's biography Birth Control in America: She is also the subject of the television films Portrait of a Rebel: Sanger , [] and Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story Sanger has been recognized with several honors.

Her speech "Children's Era", given in , is listed as 81 in American Rhetoric's Top Speeches of the 20th Century listed by rank. Marston was influenced by early feminist thought while in college, and later formed a romantic relationship with Sanger's niece, Olive Byrne. In Planned Parenthood began issuing its Margaret Sanger Awards annually to honor "individuals of distinction in recognition of excellence and leadership in furthering reproductive health and reproductive rights".

Due to her connection with Planned Parenthood , many who oppose abortion frequently condemn Sanger by criticizing her views on birth control and eugenics. In the 21st century, Sanger is regarded as an early American democratic socialist. In , Sanger opened a family planning clinic in Harlem that sought to enlist support for contraceptive use and to bring the benefits of family planning to women who were denied access to their city's health and social services. Staffed by a black physician and a black social worker, the clinic was endorsed by The Amsterdam News the powerful local newspaper , the Abyssinian Baptist Church , the Urban League , and the black community's elder statesman, W.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Margaret Higgins Sanger. Margaret Sanger Sanger in Birth control movement in the United States. Biography portal Feminism portal United States portal. For the children's sake—help me! A Reference Handbook , p. O'Conner cites Gordon However, Griswold only applied to marital relationships. A later case, Eisenstadt v. Baird , extended the Griswold holding to unmarried persons as well. Retrieved 7 June I'm so grateful for this glimpse into a successful family life. Her perspective covers the entire span of having 12 children. Since I am at the beginning of just having a few children I feel like this woman is my mentor and I'm eager to learn and grow through the pages of her book.

Reading again I've read about three or four chapters so far and I am loving this book! Reading again for the second time and it is even better than before. I am buying copies for several of my favorite women. Apr 22, Amy rated it liked it. Edwards insights into mothering were lovely and profound. I did not love having to wade through some of her personal religious beliefs I think it's harder for me to read things that have elements of my faith and are twisted to fit into something else. I'm not sure why. For some reason, I can just "chew the meat and spit out the bones", even though Kenison and I do not believe the same at all.

With this author, I had a harder time. All in all, I did enjoy this book. Oct 25, Rachel rated it it was ok. Each chapter of this book reads like a Time Out for Women talk. While I didn't come away with an incredible "how to" mothering plan, I enjoyed each vignette some ideas for gracious living and reminders to soak in children's young years.

Here's a fun fact: The author, Jaroldeen Edwards, is the mother of Marianna Richardson, the wife of our recent stake president. I took a parenting class from Marianna the oldest of 12, has 12 children herself and she is one of the most articulate, incredible w Each chapter of this book reads like a Time Out for Women talk.

Margaret Sanger

I took a parenting class from Marianna the oldest of 12, has 12 children herself and she is one of the most articulate, incredible women I've met. She and her husband are both PhDs. Oct 28, Holly 2 Kids and Tired rated it really liked it Shelves: Jaroldeen Edwards is entertaining and has some great ideas and examples of life. She raised 12 children. My favorite essay, and the reason I bought the book, is the one entitled, "Things I wish I'd known sooner. You never have to worry about matching sheets or making sure the blue towels don't get washed with the yellow ones!

My next favorite is to m Jaroldeen Edwards is entertaining and has some great ideas and examples of life. My next favorite is to make your home a place of beauty, no matter your financial situation. Jul 15, Christina rated it really liked it. I picked this up at the library the other day and read it all in one evening. It really resonated with me -- perhaps because I'm about to have our 7th child and it's nice to feel that I'm not alone, even if the author's youngest is probably my age by now!

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Her stories and insights were like listening to a good friend a bit further on in life. She gave some practical suggestions, but mostly just told stories and wrote about what she finds most worthwhile about life. Reading it made me resolve to s I picked this up at the library the other day and read it all in one evening.


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  • Reading it made me resolve to study the scriptures more and to enjoy the journey of motherhood a bit more. May 16, Jouraine rated it liked it Shelves: When I picked up this book I thought for sure there would be some enlightening coming my way. That was not exactly the case, so in my mind the title is slightly misleading. I didn't really learn anything and it wasn't particularly insightful.

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    Having said all that I quite enjoyed reading the book. It was like listening to a good friend telling you about her life with her family, and all the wonderful adventures they had together. On that basis, I think it's a worthwhile read. Jun 29, Brianna rated it it was amazing. I didn't quite know what to expect with this book. I found a woman who has a wonderful way of expressing herself with words. I really enjoyed her writing style. The title may make you think it is a self-help book, however she sets it up more as a sharing book.

    She doesn't tell you to do things a certain way. She shares her experiences as a friend would. Since I loved her writing style so much I gave it 5 stars. I also enjoyed the content very much. Worth the read to me! Jan 07, Kelsey rated it really liked it Recommended to Kelsey by: I actually really liked this book. I felt it had some good spiritual direction as well as simple everyday helps around the house. The thing I liked best about it was even a wonder-mom like Jaroldeen had days where she felt she worked and worked and got nothing done.

    She addresses this and gives advice on how to love even those kinds of days. I would say all mormon mom's should read it! Feb 15, Kate rated it it was amazing. A very pleasant, guilt-free, humorous, and empowering book. Jul 15, Ashley rated it liked it. Parenthood was different in the 70's, so I take things women of this generation say with a grain of salt ex: At the same time, I enjoyed the book.

    Wish there were more specifics though. Jun 09, Heather rated it really liked it. This would make a great gift! Biggest message I took away--never devalue yourself as a woman, a mother, a wife. I loved hearing Edwards' point of view coming from the 70's with it's message to women that being a homemaker is enslaving and degrading. What I do is important and I should never be embarrassed or ashamed of it. This woman had 12 children and she shares some of her advice.

    It's a good book. She gives a little practical advice, but mostly its philosophical. She has a great view of womenhood and motherhood. While her husband was at Harvard, she had 5 children preschool age and under! May 23, Maryanne rated it really liked it. This book does the favor of painting motherhood as a privilege that passes too quickly instead of something to barely survive. Her stories are lovely and funny. A mom can't help but feel like her life is important after reading them. Apr 21, Trace rated it it was amazing. This woman speaks from experience and with a huge amount of wisdom.

    This is a very short book that I did not want to end. Scouting out a copy for myself. I was reading a library copy and found that I wanted to underline sentences on every page! May 14, Suzanne rated it it was amazing. I waited for months to get this book from the library, and it didn't dissappoint.

    It had insightful reflections on being a wife, mother, and individual. I read it in just a couple of hours, and thought it was uplifting and inspiring. Apr 23, Kriste rated it really liked it. I read this at my sister's suggestion. The author had great stories and tips for simplifying household tasks. The tip I liked most was to always use all white bed linens so you could bleach them and not have to match them. Mar 09, Melanie rated it it was ok.