November 9, 2012

Eleanor Roosevelt

September 28, 1933
It was President Roosevelt who had the courage, foresight and vision to raise his voice on behalf of the forgotten man, and is it not time for the enlightened women of this country to raise a voice in unison on behalf of the most forgotten of all living creatures, the overburdened child-bearing woman? Why not a new deal for the 43 million women of child-bearing age in this country whose future life, liberty and pursuit of happiness depend absolutely upon the knowledge of how to control the physiological function of motherhood?
We ask a “new deal” for the mother immortalized in poetry but neglected in fact–
A New Deal for the mother whose life is shadowed by constant fears of unwanted pregnancies–a New Deal for the mother who goes down into the valley of the shadow of death for every baby born–
A new consideration for the women who appeal for contraceptive knowledge to hospitals, clinics, and social agencies, and are denied this by priest and politician alike.
The solidarity of woman is as noble as the brotherhood of man and the opportunity is here today for all of us whose lives have been benefited by such knowledge to pass that right and privilege on to the underprivileged woman who is too poor, too weak, too inarticulate to battle for her own rights.

In 1933, Sanger was enmeshed in a multi-year lobbying campaign to remove birth control from the list of obscene materials that could not be mailed in the United States. This battle would not be won in Congress, but three years later in the courts, with the U.S. v. One Package decision.  Sanger’s papers document the struggles women endured to secure reproductive freedom, and should serve as a warning about what might occur should we be unwilling to work to keep them.

For more on Sanger and Eleanor Roosevelt, see our newsletter article, “Margaret Sanger and Eleanor Roosevelt – The Burden of Public Life.”


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