Margaret Sanger, "The Meaning Of Birth Control," [Jun 1929] .
Typed speech. Source: Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress , LCM 130:111B .
The Child's Rights
To be wanted.
To be created in harmony, love.
To have the vehicle of its entrance free from disease.
To have the guarantee that its own body and brain may be able to function as an instrument for the soul's advancement.
Birth Control is the keynote of a new moral philosophy. It is the philosophy of acceptance of the full responsibility of our acts. It gives to men and women the full control over their procreative and sex lives and gives them the power to create or not to create as desired.
Needless to say that this movement is being fought by the powers that be. We must therefore face bravely and fearlessly the ignorance and prejudice of the opposition. The practice of Birth Control raises us to a higher stage in the evolution of life--as each individual progresses he helps to raise the human race in its evolution forward and onward to higher planes.
In the great movement of social reform of the 19th century, it has been concerned with the condition of life, and not with the quality of life itself. The expectations of this movement have not been fulfilled and its result is that it has increased the financial and social burdens it was intended to remove.
In the desire to protect the unfit from nature's cruel consequences and to render the fit fitter, we have case a burden upon the fit which has rendered him unequal to the task. In allowing the unfit to reproduce their kind we are doing our best to lower the level of life.
The way lies open to the next great step in social regeneration which is the deliberate control of life itself.
Responsibility is the watchword. The new sense of responsibility, not only for the lives that now are, but for the new human lives that are to come.
To control the process of generation through scientific methods of Birth Control is highly desirable to our modern civilization, because it is the inevitable result of the advance in civilization to control and not to destroy.
Reckless abandonment to the impulse of the moment, careless indifference of the morrow, the selfish gratification of individual desire at the expense of probably suffering to others, especially to lives that will come after, this may seem esthetic, moral, religious to some persons, but it is not civilization. A better civilization involves an ever increasing forethought of others, even for others who are yet unborn.
The conscious control of the birth rate is the most important available means for raising the level of our race. It is by means of knowledge of contraception that this can be scientifically done. In classic days, as in the East, the practice of infanticide was the permissible method used for attaining the small family, the interruption of pregnancy was and is still used far too extensively, but it is no longer possible for us to accept these wasteful methods as necessary. We must go father back, we must control the beginnings of life; we must control conception; we must see that no life is begun that is not wanted, loved and planned for.
This is a better method; it is a more civilized method, for it involves greater forethought, greater control, greater consideration and a finer sense of the value of life.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project