Margaret Sanger : biography

14 September 1879 - 06 September 1966

The number of letters is reported as "a quarter million", "over a million", or "hundreds of thousands" in various sources Five hundred of these letters were compiled into the 1928 book, Motherhood in Bondage.500 letters: Cohen, p 65.

Planned Parenthood era

In 1929, Sanger formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in order to lobby for legislation to overturn restrictions on contraception.NYU Margaret Sanger Papers Project That effort failed to achieve success, so Sanger ordered a diaphragm from Japan in 1932, in order to provoke a decisive battle in the courts. The diaphragm was confiscated by the United States government, and Sanger's subsequent legal challenge led to a 1936 court decision which overturned an important provision of the Comstock laws which prohibited physicians from obtaining contraceptives.Rose, Melody, Abortion: a documentary and reference guide, ABC-CLIO, 2008, p 29 This court victory motivated the American Medical Association in 1937 to adopt contraception as a normal medical service and a key component of medical school curriculums.

This 1936 contraception court victory was the culmination of Sanger's birth control efforts, and she took the opportunity, now in her late 50s, to move to Tucson, Arizona, intending to play a less critical role in the birth control movement. In spite of her original intentions, she remained active in the movement through the 1950s.

In 1937, Sanger became chairman of the newly formed Birth Control Council of America, and attempted to resolve the schism between the ABCL and the BCCRB.NYU Margaret Sanger Papers Project Her efforts were successful, and the two organizations merged in 1939 as the Birth Control Federation of America.Date of merger recorded as 1938 (not 1939) in: O'Conner, Karen, Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook, p 743. O'Conner cites Gordon (1976) Although Sanger continued in the role of president, she no longer wielded the same power as she had in the early years of the movement, and in 1942, more conservative forces within the organization changed the name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a name Sanger objected to because she considered it too euphemistic.Chesler, p 393

In 1946, Sanger helped found the International Committee on Planned Parenthood, which evolved into the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952, and soon became the world's largest non-governmental international family planning organization. Sanger was the organization's first president and served in that role until she was 80 years old.Ford, Lynne E., Encyclopedia of women and American politics, p 406 Esser-Stuart, Joan E., "Margaret Higgins Sanger", in Encyclopedia of social welfare history in North America, Herrick, John and Stuart, Paul (Eds), SAGE, 2005 p 323 In the early 1950s, Sanger encouraged philanthropist Katharine McCormick to provide funding for biologist Gregory Pincus to develop the birth control pill.Engelman, Peter, "McCormick, Katharine Dexter", in Encyclopedia of Birth Control, Vern L. Bullough (Ed.), ABC-CLIO, 2001, pp 170–1 Marc A. Fritz, Leon Speroff, Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010, pp 959–960

Death

Sanger died of congestive heart failure in 1966 in Tucson, Arizona, age 86, about a year after the event that marked the climax of her 50-year career: the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized birth control in the United States.In 1965, the case had struck down one of the remaining contraception-related Comstock laws in Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, Griswold only applied to marital relationships. A later case, Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), extended the Griswold holding to unmarried persons as well. Sanger is buried in Fishkill, New York, next to her sister Nan Higgins and her second husband Noah Slee.Baker, p 307

Legacy

Living octopus

Living octopus

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