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A Trailblazer for Women’s Rights

Helen Bass, Media Co- Editor

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“When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, it’s children will become the foundation of a new race” – Margaret Sanger

Every woman should know the name Margaret Sanger, and we should thank her for the control we can now practice with our own bodies. Sanger was an early feminist and an activist for all who coined the term “Birth Control.” During the Progressive Era, change was everywhere, but that doesn’t mean women’s fight for change was easy.

In 1879 Sanger was born into a family of 11 children. Birth control was illegal at this point and her mother, being a strict Catholic, never utilized the illegal contraceptives. She suffered from numerous miscarriages, which took a toll on her health and led to her death. The Irish immigrant family lived in poverty. Seeking a better life, she sought out higher education before advocating for birth control options for women. In 1910 she moved to New York with her husband and supported groups such as the Women’s Committee of the New York Socialist Party, the Liberal Club and the Industrial Workers of the World.

Her campaign for sex education began in 1912 with a newspaper column known as “What Every Girl Should Know.” She worked as a nurse in a rather poor neighborhood and often treated women who had undergone self terminating abortions or back alley abortions. She was shocked that these women had to go through so much unnecessary pain and suffering. This pushed her fight for birth control information and contraceptives to be available for women. She dreamt of a tiny pill that would “control pregnancy.”

Sanger found it unfair that a male could leave a women during a pregnancy, yet the woman had no choice at all. “No woman can call herself free until she can consciously choose whether she will or will not be another.”

In 1914 Sanger founded a feminist publication called “The Woman Rebel,” promoting a woman’s right to birth control which landed her into trouble. The Comstock Act of 1873 states that the trade and circulation of obscene and immoral materials was illegal. It made discussing abortion and contraceptives illegal, as well as the mailing of materials promoting it. To avoid the jail time she was facing, she escaped to England. There she educated herself about different forms of birth control and even smuggled some back into the US.

After the charges were dropped in 1916, she returned to America and began touring the country to inform women of all their options. In the same year she opened her first clinic which was raided nine days after opening. She faced 30 days in jail; they did not overturn the ruling but did allow the distribution of contraceptives for a women’s health. In 1921 she opened the American Birth Control League, the mom and dad to today’s Planned Parenthood.

Margaret Sanger paved the pathway of birth control for modern day women. She created a society in which we are able to exercise control of our own bodies. Every woman should be thanking Margaret Sanger everyday for allowing us to practice control over our bodies and our lives. She not only faced an immense amount of anger and cruelty, but she watched what happened to women when they weren’t given a choice and made it her life mission not allow other women to face that pain.

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About the Writer
Helen Bass, Media Co- Editor

Helen Bass is a Junior at Carolina Forest High School. She is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina and currently resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina....

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A Trailblazer for Women’s Rights