Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control, 1953," 1954.

Published Article. Source: Britannica Book of the Year (1954), p. 104 .

For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, see Birth Control, 1944; Birth Control, 1946; Birth Control, 1947; Birth Control, 1948, 1949;Birth Control, 1949; Birth Control, 1950; Birth Control, 1951; Birth Control, 1952; Birth Control, 1954; Birth Control, 1955; Birth Control, 1956; Birth Control, 1957; Birth Control, 1958

Birth Control.

The planning of family size as a basic means of alleviating family welfare problem, overcrowding and poverty, with their resulting local and international tensions, gained acceptance in many parts of the world during the latter part of 1952 and in 1953.


An outstanding achievement was the establishment of the first global organization, the International Planned Parenthood federation. It was formed at the third International Planned Parenthood conference, held in Bombay, India, in Nov. 1952, the first meeting of its kind to be held in the far east.

When the fourth International Planned Parenthood conference took place in Stockholm, Swed., in Aug. 1953, the agency was formally ratified and officers were elected. Margaret Sanger, founder of the birth control movement and honorary president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was designated president; Lady Rama Rau, founder and president of the Family Planning Association of India, was elected chairman. The aims of the new international body were set forth: to bring about the universal acceptance of planned parenthood in the interests of family welfare, social well-being and international good will by means of a program devoted to education, service and research. The federation’s membership comprised planned parenthood organizations in Great Britain, India, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, and west Germany.

Still another major event was the inclusion of a family planning program in the Indian government’s first five-year plan. Presented to both houses of Parliament by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the program which was adopted was provided with a budget of $1,300,000 to carry hour family planning services in government hospitals and public health agencies. In addition, its aim was to make intensive studies in motivation regarding family planning and to carry on field experiment in different methods of fertility control, as well as medical and technical research in this area.

Late in 1953 Lady Rama Rau embarked on a coast-to-coast lecture tour of the United States, speaking on “India’s Social Revolution.” The tour was under the auspices of the Planned Parenthood federation. The lectures in 35 cities, with considerable corollary publicity in newspapers, magazines and on radio and television, were expected to broaden greatly American understanding of family planning as related to India’s pressing population problems.

Asian concern and growing leadership in the population field were further evidenced by the sponsorship of a Japanese tour for Mrs. Sanger by the Mainichi newspapers of Tokyo. The invitation, which was signed by 3,000 Japanese, brought the birth control pioneer to Japan in Oct. 1952, where, by means of public meetings, broadcasts and panel discussions with experts, she helped encourage, according to the vice-minister of welfare, “the Japanese Government’s campaign to control conception by legal means.”


The urgent need to balance the dwindling world resources and the expanding human population focused scientific and public attention on research efforts to develop a simple, safe and low-cost means of fertility control. Interest during the year 1953 centered about physiological means of control by pills, teas or inoculations. Reports issued described the use of chemical agents for control of fertility in animals and human beings. Certain naturally occurring and certain synthesized products were found effective. Fertility control problems not yet fully resolved were toxicity, large-scale production and cost.

U.S. Services.–

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America was during 1953 the national clearinghouse for 12 state leagues and 120 local committees. Birth control clinics numbered 519. These services were in 274 public health departments, 48 hospitals and 175 clinics sponsored by federation affiliates. There were 22 referral services. The seven states which included birth control in their public health services were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The known infertility clinics were 74, of which 12 were under federation auspices.


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