Margaret Sanger Advocates the ABC--American Babies' Code




Margaret Sanger Microfilm Edition, Smith College Collections, S71:0529


No final version found. Last page(s) missing.


Hoover, Herbert
Wile, Dr. Ira S.
Little, Dr. C. C.



Margaret Sanger Advocates the ABC--American Babies' Code

Foremost advocate of Birth Control Declares the "Blue Stork" must come to the aid of the "Blue Eagle"

In his fantastic play "The Blue Bird" Maurice Maeterlinck placed one famous scene in the Azure Palace, where children still to be born waited to come into the world of the living. This Palace was named the Kingdom of the Future. Each morning at dawn, Time opened its great portals and the Unborn crowded down into the realm of the Living.

In his strange novel “Erewhon” the eccentric English satirist, Samuel Butler, also described the World of the Unborn and the fantastic theory of Preexistence which was a part of the creed of his imaginary Erewhonians.

It is a strange phenomenon of Progress that ideas that once seem preposterous and incredible often enter the sphere of the probably and finally crash the gate of reality.

The Rights of the Unborn seems to be one of these ideas. For we are coming gradually to recognize that all our efforts at improving the environment must come to naught unless we make sure that sound health and racial strength must be assured to every baby which is brought into the world. Scientists today insist that there must be a Blue Stork to supplement the work of the Blue Eagle.

Speaking recently before a fashionable gathering of civic leaders in the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, R. I., Dr. Ira S. Wile, celebrated physician of New York City, declared:

"It is obvious that while the National Recovery Act may utilize the Blue Eagle with thunderbolts and wheel in its talons, there is an equal necessity for a Blue Stork to fly by its side in the interest of the nation. And pendant from its beak should be the scales of Justice, its pans balanced with economic security and parental affection. If the eagle represents possible business readjustment through the acceptance by capital, labor and the public of generic and specific codes based upon reasoned compromises in the interest of the financial well-being of the nation, the stork would equally symbolize themore intelligent control of propagation in the interest of stabilizing national welfare."

"The more intelligent development of our population is paramount in theinterest of insuring our social and economic recovery. In the last analysis, the National Recovery Act is designed to promote social recovery in its broadest sense. The overproduction of goods in a non-buying market may induce severe economic difficulties, but the unthinking overproduction of actual and potential non-earning consumers is social insanity."

"The overproduction of children, beyond the capacity of their parents to take care of them, increases our social difficulties by affording the dysgenic problems of mental deficiency, juvenile delinquency and crime, unemployment, dependency and the despairing trails of miserable old age."

"The National Industrial Recovery Act stresses business and its expansion, its possibilities of wages and profit and its promotion of financial stability. The origin of that act, however, lies in the needs of human beings. Business may have been bad, and banking may have been worse, but the people of this country were in dire straits. Not want of business but want of food was making its restless plea for relief. The demands of families for reasonable opportunities to earn their sustenance, as becomes a free people, were fundamentally responsible for the numerous courageous recommendations that were an outgrowth of President Roosevelt’s assumption of leadership only a little more than seven months ago."

With this point of view I am in thorough agreement. For twenty years I have been battling for the rights of the unborn. And why now, in these days of reconstruction, when all traditional ideas have been turned topsy-turvy in Washington, I am urging, as an indispensable supplement to the NRA and the PWA (Public Works Administration), the ABC--an American Babies’ Code!

As chairman of the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, I have been asked to outline just what this Code for American Babies should provide. In attempting to draw up a fair and equitable code for the children oftomorrow, I have been compelled to go back and put myself in the position of those unborn children who have not been yet called into the realm of earthly reality. In other words, we are compelled to knock at the opalescent portals of Maeterlinck’s Azure Palace and to make our applications to the Unborn.

If, in imagination, we do this, we may easily set down the sort of questions these Children-to-be might put to us. Such questions as these might be put:

  • “Do you want us to come into your world only as the result of the chance convergence of two blood streams--one of the other of them polluted?”
  • “Do you think children should be called into existence as the result of chance parentage?”
  • “Shall we come as the undesired, unwanted progeny into a country where already millions of children are wandering the highways and roads looking for food and work?-- Into a world where you are spending millions on building roads and tunnels so that you can get nowhere much more rapidly--but where you give little thought to building parks and playgrounds and nurseries for the troop of newcomers who are brought into your world by chance and folly? While it may be true that you give certain care to some children in day nurseries--while their mothers are working or looking for work--you have no systematic, definite program for our well-being. We want more than free milk, dolls, factories and unemployment to look forward to. What provision are you making for our well-being, and our future?”

“Your former President, Herbert Hoover, admitted that of forty-five million children more than ten million were definitely handicapped. He admitted that six million of the babies you sentimental Americans had called out ofthe nowhere into the here were improperly nourished; a million at least were handicapped by bad heredity, with weak of damaged hearts; nearly four hundred thousand tubercular; while the number born totally deaf, crippled, partially blind or totally blind frombirth was disgracefully high."

Of these ten million children born deficient, President Hoover admitted, more than eighty per cent failed to receive proper attention, “though,” added our ex-president, “our knowledge and experience show that these deficiencies can be prevented and remedied to a high degree.” And conditions have become much worse since the palmy pre-depression days of Hoover.

Were we to confer upon the Unborn Children of our great country equal rights with the living in a court of justice, it would indeed be difficult to defend our social practices from the indictment they might bring against us.

“Your machines,” they might declare, “have taken regular employment from our father and mothers, our brothers and sisters, and we are not really wanted to add to the confusion, the misery and the starvation in your land. Come back when you are better prepared towelcome children and to provide strong and healthy bodies and free souls for them.”

Dr. C. C. Little, past president of the University of Maine, the University of Michigan, and the American Eugenics Society, is another distinguished scientist to point out that the major economic problem of the world today--overproduction--applies with equal force to human beings; Dr. Little, in a recent article, asserted:

“.. . . A population growing at a very rapid rate may be an excellent thing for a young country with a huge reserve of natural resources, and a very poor thing for a stable country in which the balance between resources and their consumption is at a more precarious stage. From the point of view of labor, overproduction of workers in the United States has been recognized for some years as being a menace to our standards of living and social stability. Immigration of adults from other countries was the first and most obvious point at which a blow was struck following the recent economic pinch. Immigration of children from the unrealized stage to the condition of being economic liabilities, is the second level at which the economic conditions have forced a revision of our profligate, unthinking, and uncontrolled attitude."

“. . . . An overabundance of domestic tragedies, an enormous increase in the needs of charities and a growth in expenses for the care of defectives, have gradually impressed upon American citizens the need for care and intelligence in the sphere of human reproduction as well as in the realm of economic commodities."

". . . . Unwanted and uncared for children spreading misery and disease have produced a flood of criminals and have disturbed the progressive development of a sane social structure. Defectives, insane, feeble-minded, habitual criminals, paupers, and others, have threatened the development of public educational programs by the extent to which they constitute a financial burden on the taxpayer and state."

". . . . Communities and states supported by taxation of an enlightened citizenry will refuse to hold themselves financially responsible for the increasing item of care of dependents and defectives produced blindly and heedlessly by any group which dogmatically says “Breed--breed.”

Concomitant with this will come a division of the burden, so that those who insist upon a disproportionate share in producing the crisis will be held responsible for meeting it from their own resources. When this happens democracy will be more nearly realized. It is only a pseudo-democracy that fails to use the best available scientific methods in analyzing and solving its existing problems. There are distinct signs that our civilization is passing through the crisis of rebirth. Such speed of change and progress is imminent that, not many years hence, the issue will be raised and settled.”

In advocating the Code for Babies, I carry on our fight for the removal of legislative obstacles to conscious, intelligent procreation, by becoming the voice of the children-to-be and those unfortunates who are bearing the heaviest burden of ourpresent confused state of civilization. In pleading for a Code, these children, were they articulate, might say to President Roosevelt and General Hugh Johnson and Secretary Ickes and the rest of the distinguished gentlemen in Washington:

“There are ten millions of us in this great country whom your Child Welfare experts characterize as handicapped from birth. Some of us are blind, lame, tubercular, speechless, deaf--and through no fault of our own. We are the victims of an irresponsible parenthood. Few of us have any hope of living full and useful lives. We are a care on our parents, relatives, and many a burden upon the taxpayers of the nation. We did not ask to be born, and had we anything to say to the summons which called us from the realm of the unborn, we would