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Sanger, Margaret (1879–1966) and the American birth control movement

Aiko Takeuchi


Margaret Sanger was an advocate and organizer of the American birth control movement and founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. While she remains a controversial figure, primarily because of her conflict with the Catholic Church's view of sexual morality and her close affiliation with “negative” eugenics, her birth control movement helped protect women's reproductive rights worldwide. Margaret Sanger was born as the sixth of eleven children of Michael and Anne Higgins. Growing up in an impoverished Irish household, Sanger saw her mother, a devout Catholic, suffer from multiple pregnancies and eventually die of consumption at the age of 50. While working as a visiting nurse in New York's Lower East Side, Sanger allegedly encountered “Sadie Sachs,” a young Jewish immigrant woman who died from the complications of a self-induced septic abortion, and counted that as her “awakening” to the issues that would become her life's work. Sanger spent her youth dedicated to the New York Socialist Party, using radical tactics of direct action in support of female workers in the laundry and textile industries. Sanger wrote articles on human reproductive process and female sexuality under the title “What Every Girl Should Know” in the Socialist daily, The Call . Her column on venereal disease was banned in early 1913 under the Comstock Law, which prohibited the mailing, transporting, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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