Birth Control, 1952




Britannica Book of the Year, 1953, p.106


For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, "Birth Control," 1946-1958, see Margaret Sanger Papers Microfilm Edition: Collected Documents Series: 1944; 1946; 1947; 1949; 1950; 1951; 1953; 1954; 1955; 1956; 1957; and 1958.

For a typed draft of this article, see Margaret Sanger Papers Microfillm Edition: Smith College Collection, S72:733.



Birth Control.

Population increases, the result of marked and widespread lowering of death rates since 1932, were reported by the United Nations in a population summary during 1952. The year also marked increasing acceptance on an international level of the need to plan human birth in relation to available supplies of food and other vital resources.


Abraham Stone, vice-president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, returned during the year from India where he had established a pilot project in the rhythm method of birth control under auspices of the Indian government and World Health organization. The clinical studies that Stone initiated in New Delhi and the states of Mysore, Madras and West Bengal continued under the supervision of two family-planning specialists, recommended by the federation at the request of W.H.O.

The first World Conference on Planned Parenthood to be held in the far east took place in Bombay, India, Nov. 24-Dec. 1, 1952, initiated by the International Committee on Planned Parenthood whose headquarters were in London. Physicians, demographers and scientists from Asia, Europe and the U.S. met to study social, economic and cultural factors in relation to population problems; to exchange information and views on planned parenthood programs in different countries; to stimulate social and biological research in human reproduction and to encourage the formation of national planned parenthood organizations. The conference, which was held under the auspices of the Indian Family Planning Association, had Lady Rama Rau, association president, as its chairman. Mrs. Margaret Sanger, founder of the birth control movement, who spearheaded the establishment of the International committee in 1948, was director of the American division of the conference.

The first international birth control publication, News of Population and Birth Control, was issued in January. Published monthly in New York, N.Y., at the request of the International committee, its 9,000 readers included government officials and key lay and professional leaders in 65 countries.


The urgent need for simpler and less expensive methods of fertility control led to the federation’s establishment of the position of research director, and the appointment of Paul Henshaw, an experimental biologist, to the post, in order to expedite, co-ordinate, conduct and promote research in the field of fertility and sterility. Henshaw carried out a survey on the potentialities of the physiologic control of fertility, which revealed that the principle of such control could be regarded as established, based on the large amount of published literature in the field. The study also showed that two types of further research were needed: (1) practical studies to establish minimal doses, the most effective methods of treatment and the standardization of treatment materials at low cost; and (2) basic studies to develop still more suitable methods.

U.S. Services.-–

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America was, in 1952, the national agency and clearing house for 11 state leagues and 91 local committees. Birth control clinics numbered 519. These services were in 274 public health departments, 48 hospitals and 175 extramural clinics, and there were 22 referral services. Of the 196,604 yearly total of patients visiting birth control clinics in 1951, the majority, or 189,658, were served in extramural clinics sponsored by federation affiliates. The seven states which included birth control in their public health programs were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The known infertility clinics in the country providing diagnosis and treatment of childless couples were 66, of which 13 were under the auspices of the Planned Parenthood federation.