Essay Example on Margaret Sanger held the first American Birth Control Conference

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In November 1921 Margaret Sanger held the first American Birth Control Conference titled Birth Control Is it moral at the Plaza Hotel in New York A variety of physicians social scientists and reformers attended the conference to support and speak on the issue at hand Socialist sympathizers attended as well as a prominent member of the British parliament Winston Churchill and the acclaimed American novelist Theodore Dreiser Over the span of the next three days the group discussed the global ramifications of birth control In her opening speech Margaret states There are two instincts which have ever guided the destiny of mankind These instincts are hunger and sex The instinct of hunger has received consideration in practically every civilized country and man has adapted his institutions to meet its needs But the instinct of sex has been ignored Not I claim and most of us who make a study of the subject know that this instinct is just as deep just as fundamental as the instinct of hunger It cannot be crushed It cannot be denied But we must understand it 



We will then utilize it as we utilize music and prayer for our highest powers and for higher illumination Sanger reveals an unprecedented perspective on sexual activity By comparing the instinct of sex to hunger she allowed the scientists physicians and reformers to recognize the normality of sex Sanger s speech not only assisted revolutionizing the way sex is viewed in the United States but also roused reformers into affecting change in the government In the following days many intellectuals such as Dr Karl Reiland a Rector at Saint George s Church in New York City spoke and a discussion was held between Margaret Sanger and Mr Harold Cox a British economist and former Conservative Member of Parliament The variety of opinions allowed for an open space to dialogue on the moral implications of Birth Control As a result of the conference the ABCL American Birth Control League was formed to provide education legislative reform and research on Birth Control On the last day of the conference in attempting to prevent police from shutting down a public birth control meeting in the Town Hall theater in Manhattan Sanger was arrested This event wreaked havoc on the town of Manhattan Riots broke out and various articles were written about the iconic arrest The outrage dwindled with Sanger s release but the impact of her arrest sparked a long tenacious revolt for the legalization of birth control In 1938 the Federal Ban on Birth Control was lifted ending the Comstock era The Comstock Act raised by Anthony Comstock was passed in 1873 as an Act in the suppression of Trade in and Circulation of Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral 



Use This also included a ban on unlawful abortion or contraception The Comstock Law not only created opportunities for unwanted pregnancies and put children at risk for being born with disease and sickness but also was responsible for the death of thousands of pregnant mothers who underwent back alley abortions during the 6 decades the law was enforced Efforts to amend the Comstock act were to no avail until the 1930 s when the movement for the legalization of Birth control was in full swing The National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control undertook the campaign for reforming the Comstock act The committee amassed thousands of organizations with millions of members that endorsed the destruction of federal restrictions Nearly 325 00 endorsements were filed with Congress The National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control Inc then underwent a series of legal and federal battles for the legalization of Birth Control As the government increasingly confiscated materials books etc a case emerged from Committee on behalf of the medical director of the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau in New York Dr Hannah M Stone

The government through the Bureau of Customs had seized a package containing a large number of pessaries devices to administer contraceptives which allegedly violated Section 305 a of the Tariff Act of 1930 a result of the Comstock law Dr Stone claimed the devices had been sent to her by a physician in Japan for a trial in Dr Stone s practice Stone testified at the trial that she prescribed the use of pessaries in cases of unwanted pregnancies As a result of this case on November 30 1936 birth control under medical direction was legalized It was rendered by The United States Circuit Court of Appeals that federal obscenity laws do not apply to the activities of physicians and that contraceptives may be prescribed for the wellbeing of the patient While this was a great stride in the normalization of sex and the fight for the sexual health rights of women there were still many flaws that needed to be addressed States such as Mississippi and Massachusetts refused to abide by these reforms Additionally these reforms only applied to married women The idea that women could have sex out of marriage was still a stigmatized idea


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