Faces From The Past-xxiv


Each flare-up of bigotry benefited her cause, bringing discussion of birth control out in the open, providing her with an opportunity to broadcast her views. Woman’s fertility, she believed, was the chief cause of human misery and resulted in poverty, famine, and war. Fewer births would mean better and healthier children, more money for each member of a poor family, better-cared-for and better-educated young people. Until her eighty-sixth year Margaret Sanger persisted. She lived to see birth control acclaimed by most Protestant churches and by the American Medical Association; the courts liberalized the interpretation of existing laws. Birth-control instruction, which she had introduced, was available in hospitals and clinics; there was increased awareness of the tragedy implicit in unchecked population growth; birth control was saving the lives of many mothers, ending their ancient fear of constant pregnancy; and, partially through her efforts, people had begun to accept sex as a normal part of life. But after her death in 1966 the urgency remained: a recent Princeton University study indicates that of the population growth in the United States between 1960 and 1965, unwanted births accounted for 35 to 45 per cent.

Richard M. Ketchum