Speech at the Richmond First Baptist Church


1,500 Attend Birth Control Lecture Here

Margaret Sanger Delivers Arguments for Dissemination of Such Information

While the Federal Government will give you a truck load of information on how to raise pigs and chickens, they will give you give years in Atlanta and a fine of $5,000 if you even tell anybody, through the mail, about birth control clinics operating legally in Virginia, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, founder of the modern birth control movement, told a large audience here last night in protesting against what she said was discrimination against mothers and children.

Because more than 1,600 Richmanders came early to the Egyptian Building of the Medical College, for the lecture, the meeting had to be moved to the old First Baptist Church at Broad and Twelfth Street.

Mrs. Sanger set forth many arguments why birth control information should be made readily accessible, but gave no information on how to accomplish such control. Dr. Fred Wampler of the Medical College of Virginia presided and presented the speaker.

Summarizing the case, Mrs. Sanger gave seven reasons why birth control should be practiced. They were: 1. By parents who have transmittable disease. 2. In cases of women who have tuberculosis, heart disease or some temporary ailment. 3. Where parents, though normal themselves apparently, already have brought into the world abnormal and defective children. 4. Adolescents. Early marriage, she said, was desirable, but the young should not become parents. The girls should be 22 years old, the boys 23 for complete development. 5. For the purpose of spacing children so there will be two or three years between births. 6. The economic side of the question; the father’s earning power. It is unfair, she argued, for parents to have children they can do nothing for or for older children to have to stunt their youth working to feed their brothers and sisters, “their parents’ children.” 7. What she said was the necessity for young people after marriage to postpone at least two years after marriage the having of any children because they need the time for mental and spiritual adjustment. Premature parents, she said, found it harder in modern times to get along. Therefore contraceptive information should be available to young married people because individuals should be able to say what size their families should be.

Birth control, Mrs. Sanger said, can be accomplished in three ways, one, continence or celibacy, the method approved by the Catholic Church. This method, however, should not be forced on most people as religious dogma, particularly, she said, because psychiatrists have found continence was not good for most people. The second method was through sterilization by radium or x-ray, a method approved by Virginia and thirteen other States for epileptics and other persons who would transmit their physical and mental handicaps to children.

The third was by chemical or mechanical contraceptives, the description of which now is classed by Federal law as “obscenity.”

She stressed the advantages of small families–-the longer school terms possible; better nourishment, and less overcrowding, low wages and unemployables. Birth control information, she found was generally denied the poor even when accessible to more prosperous people.

“No matter what laws we may make or what we may do, there will always be some kind of child labor in large families,” she said, telling of 3-year-olds seen in Colorado and California beet fields.

Only Chile has a worse maternal mortality rate than this country, although in 1929 we spent nine billions on maternal and child health. About 22,000 mothers a year die of preventable causes usually resulting from pregnancy and more than 200,000 infants die as a result of poverty and neglect.

She quoted studies by the Children's Bureau in Washington which found fathers' wages and spacing between children potent factors in the matter of survival of childrn. The second born has a better chnce than the fifth in a family and 60 percent of twelth children everywhere are doomed at birth.

The Hoover child health conference reported ten million handicapped, six million at least partly due to undernourishment.

"They will not attack the problem at the root,” she said. "Children should have passports to give every child a sound body and mind. Our immigration laws forbid idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, psychopathic and insane or diseased persons, prostitutes and so on. Why should the same types come in through the birthrate?"

Discussing the larger view of population control she quoted John Maynard Keynes, the English economist, the the effect that there can be no peace without such control and explained her belief that Japan's warlike gestures and conquest of Manchuria are die to the fact that she has 85,000,000 population in a territory smaller than California. Italy she found faced with somewhat the same problem.