[Statement on Ethel Byrne's Hunger Strike]



Spatial Coverage


"Birth Control Women Launch Drive for Law," Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan. 27, 1917.


Sanger spoke and answered questions at a luncheon at the Hotel Lafayette immediately after being released from Queens County Penitentiary.


Chicago Daily Tribune




The first result of the hunger strike and forcible feeding of Mrs. Ethel Byrne at Blackwell's Island came tonight.

A drive on congress Tuesday by Mrs. Lillian Fassett and others to get national legislation favoring birth control is being organized.

Meanwhile Mrs. Byrne, hunger striking in protest against her conviction and imprisonment for disseminating birth control information, gave up her battle.

It was not until Mrs. Byrne, having gone 108 hours without food or water, collapsed that Commissioner Lewis established a precedent in American prison annals by ordering her forcibly fed.

Later the prisoner apparently abandoned all resistance and allowed attendants to feed her. She said she would not feed herself but would not object to being fed.

Visitors, including Mrs. Sanger, were denied permission to visit the prisoner.

Calls Sister Critically Ill.

"My sister," said Mrs. Margaret Sanger, leader of the birth control movement, "is in very critical condition since she was rolled in a blanket and milk, eggs and a stimulant forced into her stomach through a rubber tube."

"As for helping my sister, we are balked at every turn. The women of the committee of one hundred, Mrs. Fassett, Mrs. Amos Finch and others have therefore concentrated on getting favorable action by congress."

"A canvas of congressmen will be made by Mrs. Fassett and the others and one of our friends chosen to introduce the proposed law."

"The bill has not been completely drafted, but it will seek the nullification of the federal statute against the dissemination of birth control information and the establishment of the right to tell poor women who need it, all about it."

Explains "Hunger Strike."

Mrs. Sanger explained today that her sister is hunger striking "against the action of the course in refusing her the right to test the constitutionality of the New York anti-birth control law."

Describing it as "the most outrageous piece of legislation on the statute books," Mrs. Sanger declared that it keeps poor working people in ignorance, while those with money and intelligence can get the forbidden information and use it."

"Birth control is a new movement in this country," she said, "and misunderstood. Its only object is to prevent the birth of more children than the parents can give good health, good minds, and a good chance to win the battle of life. It is not opposed to the birth rate, as such."