Make your own free website on Tripod.com

This was an America where buying a single condom made you a criminal in 30 states; where priests told women who used black-market diaphragms that they would be haunted by the faces of their unborn children; and where some women like Sanger's devoutly Catholic mother, who got pregnant 18 times and had 11 children and 7 miscarriages, died an early death from the ravages of so many births.” (Conlin, Bloomberg Business.) Margaret Sanger, part of the social development of women in the 1920s, created a revolution. At this time women would become able to prevent pregnancy, something they had never been able to do before. Determined to prevent the things that had happened to her own mother, Sanger set out to create and encourage the use of contraceptives.

Sanger, born in 1879 in New York, became determined in helping and supporting the movement of women and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. She set out by providing all of the money she had to her name for nursing school. She started as an obstetrical nurse in New York City's lower east side by creating the first “Planned Parenthood Federation of America”. The clinic soon ended in a police raid. (Conlin)

“In a series of articles called "What Every Girl Should Know," then in her own newspaper The Woman Rebel and finally through neighborhood clinics that dispensed woman-controlled forms of birth control (a phrase she coined), Sanger put information and power into the hands of women.” (Steinem, TIME)


She continued with sex counseling through the Planned Parenthood clinic and after the failed attempt of the first Planned Parenthood clinic, created the American Birth Control League and was later known as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942. It wasn't until 1965 when the Supreme Court ruled against a Connecticut law disagreeing with the use of contraceptives, even by married couples. (Steinem)


“Twenty-five years later, nearly 80% of American women had tried the pill.” (Conlin)


In this era, the early 20th century, pregnancy, the Pill, and things like contraceptives were both not talked about and also illegal in some cases. Women were not even able to ask or talk of contraceptives within their own doctor's office.


“At a time when birth control was still not publicly accepted in American society, some eugenicists believed birth control was a useful tool for curbing procreation among the 'weak'.” (PBS)


The addition of the Pill and other contraceptives, had been looked at as evil, wrong, and not acceptable before the formal creation of the Pill in 1960, however later on it opened a new door for women, and allowed sexual freedom. Extreme amounts of women in the early 20th century were looking to prevent the pregnancies after so many complications and other issues about birth.


“...pleaded with her doctor to give her something, anything to prevent another baby, the physician quipped: 'Tell Jake to sleep on the roof.'” (Conlin)


During this time, when inequality was a big issue for women, they were not in control of their own bodies. They could not decide what they wanted when it came to pregnancy and were more so forced to have children rather than wanting to have children which caused much pain, suffering, and deaths.

Childbirth in the past had not only been a painful process, but a constant thing.


By the 1920s, the use of anesthesia in childbirth was almost universal. “ (Digital History)

In many cases, women would look for contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancy within illegal abortion. Illegal abortion at this time resulted in death in multiple occasions. Even legal pregnancy, with no forms of contraceptives, resulted in death. Margaret Sanger's mother died after 18 pregnancies and 11 live births. (Conlin) The sudden openness of sex was not only brought on by Sanger, but also by the movement of women and the 19th Amendment. The movement for the Pill and other contraceptive methods created a new image and a new drive for women in which they wished to be the ones in control of their bodies, rather than men and husbands in the United States.

To conclude, with the equality of women on mind, contraceptive methods became a huge part of the equality movement. By introducing the Pill and other contraceptives to the United States women, it spurred an even bigger equality movement. Contraceptive methods allowed women to have control over their own bodies and decisions, rather than men. Overall Sanger and birth control helped the Equality Movement and spurred the movement further.

 Digital History. “Childbirth in Early America.” Digital History. May 23, 2011. <http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/childbirth.cfm>

PBS. “The Pill.” PBS. 1999-2002. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/sfeature/sf_attitudes.html>

Steinem, Gloria. “Margaret Sanger.” TIME. Monday, Apr. 13, 1998. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,988152-1,00.html>

Digital History. “Childbirth in Early America.” Digital History. May 23, 2011. <http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/childbirth.cfm>