Margaret Sanger, " [Birth Control, 1947] ," 1948.

Published Article. Source: Britannica Book of the Year(1947), pp.122-123 .

For a typed draft, see Margaret Sanger Microfilm S72:550.For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, see Birth Control, 1946; Birth Control, 1948, 1949;Birth Control, 1949; Birth Control, 1950; Birth Control, 1951; Birth Control, 1952; Birth Control, 1953; Birth Control, 1954; Birth Control, 1955; Birth Control, 1956; Birth Control, 1957; Birth Control, 1958

Birth Control.

Planned Parenthood programs throughout the United States were expanded in 1947, a direct result of the first nation-wide campaign of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. A major campaign by-product was the vast increase in public understanding and acceptance of Planned Parenthood services. The coverage given by the nation’s press, wire services, radio and other media, especially magazines, was instrumental in breaking down some of the resistance to publicized discussion of birth control.


The first comprehensive program for research in the field of human reproduction was instituted during 1947. It was under the direction of the National Research council in Washington. The Committee on Human Reproduction established by the council was to study need and recommend grants for specific research to qualified institutions and investigators. The council by contact with the National Committee on Maternal Health and in collaboration with the Planned Parenthood federation established this committee to plan the program of research. Research panels were to operate in accordance with policies to be defined by the newly reorganized board of the Committee on Maternal Health, under the chairmanship of Dr. Haven Emerson, professor emeritus of public health service at Columbia University, and a member of the New York city board of health.

The Committee on Human Reproduction of the National Research council was headed by Dr. Howard C. Taylor, Jr., professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Columbia university’s college of physicians and surgeons.

More than the purely medical aspects of reproduction was envisaged by the Committee on Human Reproduction as vital to its program. The medical aspects are so closely bound to the socio-economic environmental problems of the individual, family, community, nation, and the whole world that a sound research program can ignore none of them. The main areas of the study would include: (1) the physiology of and the factors controlling conception; (2) the causes of sterility and treatment for infertility; (3) maternal and foetal physiology and clinical disorders developing during pregnancy; (4) the psychological problems of marriage and family relationships; (5) the population aspects of these problems, social and economic as well as medical.

The Planned Parenthood federation would seek to contribute a substantial part of the funds for the research program. The clinics and records of its affiliates would also constitute a valuable field for certain research projects. While not a party to the contract between the National Research council and the National Committee on Maternal Health, the federation was collaborating as a full partner in the whole program.

Medical Survey of U.S. Physicians on Birth Control.–-

Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher, associate director of obstetrics and gynaecology at Johns Hopkins, conducted a nation-wide survey to tabulate medical opinion on conception control. According to his poll, 96% of the physicians in the U.S. approved birth control. Teaching of conception control methods in medical schools was found inadequate. Three-quarters of the respondents had not received training in this area. Only 7% said they had received both lectures and clinical instruction in contraception.

Lasker Awards in Planned Parenthood.–-

Dr. Guttmacher and Dr. Abraham Stone received the third annual Lasker Awards in Planned Parenthood for their distinguished contribution in the fields of marriage counseling and education. The award recognized Dr. Stone’s 30 years of clinical work, teaching and marriage counseling.

Development of Services.–-

Dr. L. E. Kling, formerly with the U.S. public health service, became acting medical director of the federation. During his public health services, Dr. Kling developed the first mass X-ray programs and had wide experience in tuberculosis and cancer control public health programs.

Nearly two-thirds of the people of the U.S. believed government health clinics should furnish birth control information, it was found in a Gallup poll conducted during the year. Figure showed that 64% approved, 23% disapproved and 13% had no opinion.

A bill to permit physicians in Connecticut to prescribe contraceptives to their patients was defeated in May when the state senate voted two to one against the bill. It had passed the lower house 180 to 40.

Massachusetts officially opened a campaign for repeal of the state law forbidding medical prescription of contraception on Sept. 2. An initiative petition for a new law was approved by the state attorney general after it had been filed by ten voters headed by Dr. Karl T. Compton, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many more than the 20,000 registered voters required by law signed the petition.

Four fertility clinics were opened during the year. Two of them were in Delaware and Connecticut where these services had hitherto been unavailable. Of these four new clinics, two were under Planned Parenthood auspices.

International Developments.–-

An International Union of Family Organizations was established by 27 nations meeting in Paris June 22-29 at a World Conference on the Family and Population. It was called by the French Union of Family Associations. U.S. representatives included Dr. Abraham Stone, who was delegated by the National Research Council, the Planned Parenthood federation and the National Council for Family Relations; Dr. Ernest Stebbins, professor of hygiene and public health, Johns Hopkins; Miss Jane Hoey, director of the social welfare bureau, Federal Security Agency; Mrs. Rachel Nyswander, director of the women’s bureau of the labor department; and Dr. Norman Himes from the educational department of the U.S. military government in Germany. Representatives from the cultural department of the U.S. embassy in Paris and of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization also participated. Dr. Stone was elected a vice-president of the new International Union of Family Organizations.


The Planned Parenthood federation was in 1947 the national agency and clearinghouse for 38 state leagues and 206 local committees. The total number of birth control centres stood at 550. These services were in 231 public health clinics, 60 hospital clinics and 214 extramural clinics. Of the 55 fertility clinics in the U.S., 12 were under Planned Parenthood direction. (See also BIRTH STATISTICS.)


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Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project