Margaret Sanger, "A Message to Mothers," Apr. 1916.
Published article. Source: Physical Culture, Apr. 1916, Vol 35: No 4, p. 15 , Margaret Sanger Papers Microfilm: Collected DocumentC16:99 .
A brief editorial note directing readers to an update on Sanger's trial that precedes this article was omitted.
"Motherhood is sacred!" How many times have we heard that platitude -- that sweet, sickening lie in view of the horrible truth that motherhood has so often been a profanity -- the very incarnation of recklessness, carelessness, and blindness to future misery? Through involuntary motherhood misery and disease and ignorance and stupidity have been multiplied a million fold in this world. A weak and exploitable humanity has perpetuated itself for the benefit of its Machiavellian masters.
Such at least must be the impression of one like myself. For in this work I have had the great response from the mothers of America themselves, hundreds, even thousands of letters and requests coming to me for this knowledge. The only opposition has come from those who have established themselves behind the ramparts of privilege and power, or from those who derive their huge revenues from the weak and disinherited humanity which is the result of reckless procreation.
Some are of the opinion that the practice of Birth Control by American Mothers will result in the improvement of the quality of the race, even though it diminish the quantity. I prefer to emphasize the direct and immediate benefits to be derived from Birth Control. Certainly we need fine, well-born children. To get them, we need strong mothers, strong women--spiritually strong and physically strong.
When I started my propaganda for Birth Control--a fight that has been a dark and hopeless one against the forces of authority and ignorance--I was resolved to give women the one effective weapon with which they might assert their central and radical function in human society.
If the mothers of America--especially the mothers of the poor--were asking for safe methods of birth control, in order to alleviate and remove their misery, has the doctor, the social worker, the nurse--has anyone in possession of it--the right to withhold it? Or withholding it, must he not therefore be held responsible for the unlovely results of forced or reckless parenthood?
The weapon of Birth Control would place into the hands of all women the power to decide--to make the important choice. It would--indeed it already has--raised Motherhood to a position of the greatest responsibility. We are now in a position to hold every woman to a strict accountability for the children she brings into this world. Women must now realize that they are bringing men and women into the world--not merely babies to sentimentalize over.
"What right have you to bring this child into the world?" This is the question every mother must now answer.
"What right have you to expect me to bring men and women into the world?" This, in turn, is the question every woman must ask Society.
Oh! if I could rouse enough women--enough mothers of my class, the working class--to ask this stern question of American society--women fully conscious of the true sacredness of motherhood, women ready to demand an honest answer and determined to make this world into a fit place to receive their children--then would we not effect an immediate concentration upon the solution of social problems?
The women and the mothers of America, not the courts, alone have the power to decide the cause of Birth Control.
ASSERT THAT POWER!
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project