July 29, 2010

Margaret Sanger Biography: Margaret Sanger Founder of the Birth Control League

Margaret Sanger was the founder of the Birth Control League
She was born in Corning, New York on September 14, 1879 and was one among eleven siblings. But her mother had undergone eighteen pregnancies. Some of her babies died in infancy, and after this arduous experience of numerous pregnancies and childbirths, her mother died of tuberculosis and cervical cancer.
Her father had ideas like advocating women’s suffrage and free public education. Margaret Sanger seems to have inherited at least in part her ideals from her father’s ideas as well as from her own experiences in a large family. Being the sixth of eleven siblings, she had to assist in household chores and in the upbringing of her younger siblings.
She started her schooling in a boarding school named Claverack College, but had to give up her education half-way to come home and help nurse her ailing mother. After her mother passed away in 1896, she enrolled herself in a hospital in White Plains as part of their program for training nurses.
She got married and had her first baby in 1903. Incidentally she had contracted tuberculosis from her ailing mother. During this time another misfortune befell her when her home was burned in an accidental fire. She later moved to New York City and took up work in the Manhattan slums.
Her experience thus far motivated her to write about them and she started a column “What Every Girl Should Know”, that she published in the ‘New York Call’. She also wrote a pamphlet, her first of many other publications to follow, under the title ‘Family Limitation’.
Her ideas were ahead of her times and when she spoke and wrote about contraceptives it was looked upon as obscene. She risked imprisonment, but was fortunate to be able to continue her activities unmolested by the law for some time at least.
A turning point in her life was when she was called upon to nurse a lady named Sadie Sachs who had undergone a self-induced abortion which led to her health begin affected dangerously. In those days abortion was frowned upon and no medical practitioner would undertake to perform one. After few months Sadie Sachs died while again trying to abort her baby. This got Sanger thinking of the ways and means to prevent such deaths and unwanted pregnancies.
Before she could move on with her mission, she separated from her husband.
But she did not allow this separation to hinder what she had in mind. She started a monthly magazine named ‘The Woman Rebel’ that discussed ways and means of preventing unwanted pregnancies through the use of contraceptives. This magazine was the first to use the term ‘Birth Control’.
The law again intervened and she was accused of having violated obscenity laws by the US postal department. She was indicted in August 1914, but she escaped the clutches of the law by jumping bail and sailing across the Atlantic under an assumed name “Bertha Watson”.
Later in 1915, she returned to the US to continue her initiatives despite legal hurdles, and wrote many books that included ‘Woman and the New Race’ published in 1920, ‘The Pivot of Civilization’ published in 1922, ‘Happiness in Marriage’ published in 1926, ‘My Fight For Birth Control’ published in 1931 and her own autobiography published in 1938.
Finally Margaret Sanger’s ideas were accepted at least by the pro-abortion groups while she was and still is condemned by the pro-life groups. But we can say that at the end of a long struggle she succeeded in raising awareness about this critical issue of birth control and contraception. She passed away on September 6, 1966.

No comments:

Post a Comment