Margaret Sanger, " [The Need for Birth Control] ," [28 Jan. 1932] .

Typed draft speech. Source: Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress , LCM 128:410 .

This may be the speech that Margaret Sanger gave on Jan. 28, 1932 at the Washington, DC home of Louise Chase Myers, to an audience of 150 people. Interlineations and deletions by Sanger.


I cannot express too firmly my conviction that this is the way to national suicide, politically, physically, and economically. The vote of the moron has the same numerical significance as that of the college graduate. A nation drawing the largest portion of its population from the strata living at subsistence level cannot produce the ↑citizens with the↓ stamina, initiative, and vigorous health needed to maintain its standing to ↑constantly↓ forge forward. A nation drawing more than half of its ↑future↓ population from

The further contention is made, etc.

I am frequently asked if I am not proud of the great progress made in this movement during my lifetime. I am reminded that there has been a general breakdown of secrecy and ignorance, not only on the subject of birth control, but relating to the entire field of sex education. Birth Control is recognized today as has won legal and medical recognition as an important branch of preventive public health procedure. Magazines

A new literature has been created. Thousands of pamphlets and books have been written on this subject since 1916. This literature has been made available both to the public and to the medical profession.

Magazines ↑and publications↓ outstanding for their conservatism are today frankly dealing with the social implications of birth control, although with appropriate editorial implications.

National public polls taken among all classes of population reveal from that 80% desire extension of birth control service under medical guidance. The same polls reveal that the public mind is no-longer confused, that and understands that birth control is [really exactly the reverence of abortion?] not abortion.

Nearly 400 birth control clinics have been established under [page(s) ] And from all their letters and from the personal problems and tragedies, which strangers in increasing numbers constantly laid before me, came a clear-cut understanding of the part birth control could and must eventually play in any constructive program of race-building.

We went forward therefrom from the beginning with a broad program. We stressed the importance of parents refraining entirely from bringing children into the world if they themselves suffered from insanity, feeble-mindedness or a venereal disease. We called upon parents who, though normal themselves, had already brought mental defectives into the world, to avoid the risk of ruining another life, much as they might desire a normal child. We pleaded for the right of every woman, rich or poor, sick or well, to obtain the necessary kn

We urged the necessity of giving contraceptive information to women suffering from tuberculosis, heart or kidney disease, to cut ↑lower↓ the death rates from these diseases which are seriously complicated by pregnancy.

We pleaded for the right of every woman, rich or poor, sick or well, to obtain the necessary information knowledge to space the births of her children; ↑we↓ pointed to ↑out↓ the statistical evidence that children born ↑one year apart die at the rate of 147 per thousand; born two years apart the death rate falls to 96 per thousand; while children born three years apart to 86 per thousand↓ three years apart have the best chance of survival, and give the children already born ↑in the family↓ their opportunity for the mother’s undivided attention during the first critical years of life.

We emphasized the importance of the family income in determining family size, and pointed out that a father with an earning capacity to take care of only two children should not have ten or twelve to become a burden upon the family and the community. And lastly, we made a plea for marriage itself. We urged that young married people be given knowledge to enable them to make a fine thing of marriage by having at least a year or two for adjustment to each other, physically, ↑mentally,↓ and spiritually, before assuming the responsibilities of parenthood.

The American public listened, and approved. To them it was “just plain common-sense”. The masses, especially the working people, were with me, etc. etc.

In India I heard the proverb: “Knowledge is to know what to do, skill is knowing how to do it, virtue is in doing it”. We have in birth control a new instrument for freedom. It makes possible a larger life, the creation of a finer race. We have the knowledge and the skill to apply that knowledge. ↑We have this knowledge. We possess We have developed skill to apply our knowledge.↓ When shall we as a nation pass the virtue of utilizing the knowledge we have USE our knowledge and our skill, ↑and acquire virtue?↓


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Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project


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