Margaret Sanger (1879 – 1966) is a controversial figure in history both for what she accomplished, distributing contraception information and the founding of Planned Parenthood, and for other views she held, such as support for the now discredited theory of Eugenics. It’s her effort to fight against religious and social conservatives for the right of women to have control over their own bodies that she is a Humanist you should know.
It is generally conceded by sociologists and scientists that a nation cannot go on indefinitely multiplying without eventually reaching the point when population presses upon means of subsistence. While in this country there is perhaps no need for immediate alarm on this account, there are many other reasons for demanding birth control. At present, for the poor mother, there is only one alternative to the necessity of bearing children year after year, regardless of her health, of the welfare of the children she already has, and of the income of the family. This alternative is abortion, which is so common as to be almost universal, especially where there are rigid laws against imparting information for the prevention of conception. It has been estimated that there are about one million abortions in the United States each year.
To force poor mothers to resort to this dangerous and health destroying method of curtailing their families is cruel, wicked, and heartless, and it is often the mothers who care most about the welfare of their children who are willing to undergo any pain or risk to prevent the coming of infants for whom they cannot properly care.
The Case for Birth Control
(first published in the Woman Citizen, Vol. 8, February 23, 1924, pages 17-18.)
In her fight to legalize contraception, Sanger spent time in jail, wrote thousands of words, and spoke to hundreds of groups across the country. She also helped in the effort to develop the first FDA approved oral contraceptive pill, Enovid, starting in 1960. She also lived long enough to see the Comstock laws ruled unconstitutional.
Margaret Sanger was awarded the 1957 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.