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The Sixth International Birth Control Conference
Editorial Note--Throughout the world wherever birth control is advocated or considered, Mrs. Sanger is known as the outstanding leader of the Birth Control movement in America and as an indefatigable and fearless advocate in her writings and lectures of conscious and voluntary motherhood.
No less than twelve nations of the Orient and Occident were represented at the Sixth International Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference, recently brought to a successful close in New York. The Conference was held under the auspices of the American Birth Control League and was the first gathering of its kind, made up of delegates from every civilized country of the globe, ever held in the United States to discuss problems of population and racial health.
Perhaps the most important achievement of the conference was to place the movement for a OPTIMUM population all countries, as opposed to population, on a soundly basis. On its scientific, philosophical and humanitarian basis, the conference emphasized the remarkable unanimity of opinion and harmony of thought among the delegates from all countries. This unity of thought has led to the organization of an international league, and plans were made nature to convene in Geneva, Switzerland in August, 1926, immediately before the session of the Assembly of the League of Nations.
The first Neo-Malthusian League was organized in England some fifty years ago. Its activities were based on the celebrated Malthusian theory, and were mainly economic in character. While not discarding the Malthusian law that "everywhere the pressure of population presses against the means of subsistence," the Sixth international conference put greater stress on the problem of contraception (or as it is popularly known Birth Control) in its medical, scientific, eugenic, psychological and ethical aspects.
Ten years ago, when I inaugurated my campaign for conscious and voluntary motherhood among the poor women of America, I was denounced and persecuted. Four years ago, a mass meeting was broken up by the police of New York. The International Conference triumphantly vindicates my campaign, and indicates a remarkable progress in American thought. Not only were all the sessions accurately and fairly reported in the daily press, but the Birth Control movement has enlisted the support of the most eminent authorities in all fields--not only economists, statisticians, biologists, geneticists, physicians and psychologists, but also many pastors of the various Protestant churches. This achievement is the greater in view of the federal and state laws in the United States which forbid, even to doctors, the dissemination of contraceptive information.
France, which was once the nation in which Birth Control was most universally practiced, has since the war, begun an active propaganda for large families. Yet delegates from that country pointed out that the real menace is not a lowering birth rate, but a high infantile mortality rate, and that France was backward in any effort to lower the death rate of the children born, and that the practice of Birth Control continued despite all efforts to encourage larger families.
One of the most interesting features of the conference was the sessions, on methods of contraception, for physicians only, held without interference despite the rigorous statutes of the State against even the discussion of contraception. More than one thousand physicians attended these sessions, held simultaneously in the ball rooms of two great New York hotels.
The Sixth International Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference marks the initiation of a new era of international thought and the beginning of a closely coordinated movement toward world-peace.