[Address to the Middle Western States Conference on Birth Control]



Spatial Coverage


Margaret Sanger Microfilm Edition, Smith College Collections, S71:0183


This is a draft of Sanger's address to the Middle Western States Conference on Birth Control, sponsored by the NCFLBC and held in Columbus, OH. The audience was comprised of activists, doctors, scientists and lawyers.



We are here today to discuss plans to effect the Amendment of a Federal law Sec 211, passed by Congress Comstock just 56 years ago.

This law prohibits the sending thru the U.S. Mail of books, pamphlets, articles, records, charts, medical, scientific or data of any kind relative to the prevention of conception.

There is no exception to the law, no exception to scientific or educational or medical literature no exception to physicians or to any group whose usefulness to society might be advanced by such information.

It is said that the bill has rushed thru Congress on the last day of its session amid great confusion & hurry--few congressmen knew the significance of the bill they had voted on.

66,000 signatures were sent to Congress in protest of the bill immediately after but nothing came of it & the citizens of this country have had to put up with bootleg information to limit the size of the family or resign themselves to the inevitable. Here we began the first steps to effect the differential birth rate. It is estimated that since the passage of this law over 1,150,000 mothers have died in U.S.A. from causes due to pregnancy & 15, million infants under one year of age have passed out of this life 90% of them due to poverty & neglect.

From 1876 to 1914 there was no concentrated effort on the part of any group to arouse public sentiment to change the law. It was a long period of arrests & shameful persecutions on the part of the Comstock Society.

(Dead Hand of the Past)

When I came upon the horizon in 1914 I had seen such misery & unhappiness among the overburdened mothers of the poor during my nursing work in NYC that I was convinced that our heavy toll of mothers lives--our maternal mortality could be lessened if sick & ailing & poverty burdened mothers, Tb & heart & kidneys could be protected from child bearing.

I was convinced that our infant mort could be greatly reduced if our mothers were protected to space out babies--Children's Bureau of Wash DC.

When there is an Interval of 3 years between birth of babies there is a better chance of living than when only 1 year.

It also shows us that

  • Deaths of 2nd children less 100 per m.
  • Deaths of 7th children over 350 per m.
  • Deaths of 12 th children over 600 per m.

60% of 12 children die

I felt that the legislation & palliative efforts to lessen infant mortality were not enough. Child labor laws were not enough. If we are to make the world safe for childhood safe for future generations, safe for civilization then we must stop at its source the unending stream of death doomed infants thru birth control.

Background in 1914--} face of federal law law against me.

Free Speech & free press.


7 conditions where B.C. should be practiced

Federal law impeds progress

Fed Committee. 4 Regions.

Congressmen to be convinced

1000 women to bring happiness to 120 million

Sir Arthur Keith. Englands anthropologist