Margaret Sanger, " [Shall the War Bride have a Baby Now?] ," Nov 1942.
Typed Speech. Source: Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College. , Margaret Sanger Microfilm, S72:0366. .
I have been honored with the invitation to send a message to women over your station and I feel the most timely message at this time would be to those millions of women who are deeply involved in this war. You are being asked to take the place of men in industry, even to join the army, navy, and air corps. You will be, in increasing numbers, doing a man’s work in this war. Yet you are also expected to bear and raise the nation’s children, her future citizens. Throughout the country the question has been a burning issue, “Shall the war bride have a baby now, or shall she wait until the more settled conditions of peace time after the war?”
Present rising birth rates show that many of you are making the decision of having babies now, of perpetuating the man you love. For those of you who are physically, emotionally and economically able to undertake this added a burden under present conditions, I say go ahead, more power to you. But consider wisely these facts, ask yourself these serious questions.
Will I be able to support this child in the event my husband does not return? Or if her should return a helpless invalid or cripple?
Will my child suffer in the event of a prolonged war and the severe rationing of food, as a children in Europe are suffering?
Will my anxiety for the return of my husband affect the child after he is born -- even before he is born?
Is my own health, my emotional stability, equal to the strain of making it possible for me to bear a healthy normal child under present conditions?
Most of all, is it fair to deprive my child of his father during his early years, perhaps for all his life?
It is difficult to give these matters reasoned consideration during troubled emotional times such as these, when the instinct of a woman is to perpetuate the one she loves and may lose, but it is unfair to the child, to herself, to society, if she lets her emotions over-rule her reasoned considerations.
There is no danger of race-suicide in America; our birth-rate is the highest in our history and rising steadily. Our national concern now should be for quality, for healthier babies and mothers, fewer infant and maternal mortalities, fewer social misfits who should never have been born and are a rising burden on society.
Stories come from all over the nation of incredibly crowded conditions in maternity hospitals, babies being delivered in doctors’ offices, in trailers, mothers sent home from hospitals with their infants immediately after delivery. Conditions such as these are bound to affect the mortality statistics of mothers and new born babies. Consider these things; consider the fact that many more millions of you will be needed in industry before this war is won, before you rashly and emotionally succumb to an instinct to bear a war baby. You chances for happiness may be much greater in many cases if both you and your husband wait until the grim business of war is over, and times are more nearly normal again.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project