Margaret Sanger, "Providence Speech Material - April 8th," 8 Apr 1935.
Typed speech. Source: Margret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College , S71:0744 .
For a newspaper report of the the speech Sanger delivered, see "Mrs. Sanger Hits New Deal Attitude on Birth Control," Providence Journal, 8 Apr 1934.This draft was written for Sanger by Stella Hanau.
The best minds of the country are engaged in leading America out of the depression. The causes underlying our present difficulties are many and complex, and there is no one panacea which will take us back into the land of plenty, but some things are clear and some things can be done at once.
Recently issued figures of high birth rates in families on relief, as compared with families of similar social status among the employed, point to a moral which we should lose no time in acting upon.
Each year since 1930 the cost of relief has practically doubled, and the end is not yet. Population in America today may not be pressing upon the means of subsistence, as Malthus fore-told that it might and could, but population is certainly pressing upon our relief funds. Eleven million people are unemployed, and the official FERA figures for February, 1935, show 4,485,000 families on general relief. It is in these four million families that the birth rate is the highest, that from 45 to 60% more babies are born than in families which are fortunate enough still to be independent or employed.
Cold hard logic, dollars and cents, taxes and survival, point to giving the mothers in these families of the poor access to reliable birth control information. But this is not all. Public health, the quality, both physically and mentally, of the next generation, which will make the America of tomorrow, demands that people be given the knowledge of how to avoid unwanted children, of how to plan their families and space their children.
Last, but not least, there is the factor of human happiness. I need not tell this audience of the tragedies inherent in ignorance of birth control. I need not wring your hearts with tales of lives warped and broken, sickness and death which might have been avoided, had poor women been able to secure this necessary medical information.
Population is pressing on relief facilities, and upon the very structure of our social system, upon education, culture, and all that we have painfully built up, in trying to make our children’s world a better one than ours.
Let us face the fact that unemployment is not a temporary condition. The increasing development and use of machinery in production is a most significant factor. There will continue to be less and less need for human labor, as we invent new and better mechanical devices. Shall we stop inventions and the development of science, or shall we adjust our population to the needs of our modern world.
The obsolete Comstock laws, which have been on our statute books since 1873, make us the laughing stock of the civilized countries. We are the only country in the world which classes contraception with obscenity. Help us amend these laws. Help me make it possible for doctors, hospitals, public health agencies to lawfully give to the women of America the birth control instruction they so greatly need.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project