Margaret Sanger, "Margaret Sanger Defends Her Battle For the Right of Birth Control," 5 Dec 1915.
Published article. Source: New York Call, Dec. 5, 1915, 5 , LCM 130:101 .
This article was introduced by a short preface by Call, The New York editor Anita Block, detailing Sanger's battle against the Comstock Act.
It is quite natural and consistent with capitalist laws that there should be a heavy penalty for imparting information on birth control among the workers, when we view these laws in the light of our present day society.
In the South, little, pale-faced children, 9 and 10 years of age, wend their weary way to the mills early in the winter mornings, before the sun is up, and return, after twelve hours' toil, after it has set. These little ones are just "helpers" to their mothers, who work in the mills also, while the father remains at home, cares for the younger children, and takes the noonday meal to his wife and children in the mills. There are eight and nine children to a family.
Almost all the stockholders of these mills are legislators, Congressmen, etc., who have much to do in the making of the laws. So it is to their interest that child slaves be born into the world, and they will enforce the laws to that end.
When women have knowledge of the means to avoid producing hands, then will child labor cease, and the few children born to the workers will be made welcome by society, and given fields and playgrounds in which to spend a healthful childhood instead of grinding their souls and bodies into profits, as is done today.
A LARGE FAMILY OF CHILDREN IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OBSTACLES FOR THE WORKING MAN AND WOMAN IN OBTAINING ECONOMIC FREEDOM. IT IS THE GREATEST BURDEN TO THEM IN ALL WAYS.
It is the man with a large family who is most often the burden in a strike. It is he who is the most difficult to bring out on strike, for it is he and his who are the greatest sufferers through its duration.
One could enumerate various instances where two or three groups of workers have broken a strike, and upon looking for the cause you invariably found the men in these groups or nationalities had many children, and could not withstand their [needs?] .
My Magazine, The Woman Rebel, told the working women these things and more.
As editor and publisher of The Woman Rebel I felt a glow of hope and inspiration in the response which came from the working girls and women all over the United States.
I saw the women of wealth, the masters' wives, obtain birth control information with little difficulty.
I saw that, if the working man's wife refused to have more children, she was compelled to resort to abortion. Over 50,000 abortions are performed in the United States each year, and 25,000 deaths occur as the result of them.
I saw that it is the working women who fill this death list, for though the master's wife may resort to abortions, too, she is given the best care and attention which money can buy.
I saw that the Comstock laws produce the abortionist, make him a growing and thriving necessity, while the lawmakers close their Puritan eyes.
I resolved to give my time and efforts to defy the law, not behind a barricade of law books and legal technicalities, but by spreading the information among the workers directly, in factory and workshop. My magazine was confiscated and I was compelled to flee to a place where I could carry out my work unmolested.
When I have accomplished all that can be gained in this way, I shall return to take up the legal end of the case, ever delighting in the fact that the authorities cannot imprison my contempt for their stupidity, nor deprive the workers of the knowledge they have already received.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project