National Birth Control League

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The National Birth Control League was a United States organization founded in the early 20th century to promoted the education and use of birth control.

Birth Control Review cover, July 1919: "How shall we change the law?", "Must She Always Plead in Vain? "You are a nurse - can you tell me? For the children's sake - help me!"

It was founded in 1915 by Mary Dennett, Jesse Ashley and Clara Gruening Stillman,[1] while Margaret Sanger was in Europe,[2] to improve birth control education and prevent legislation that would prohibit the dissemination of birth control information.[3] It published birth control literature, drafted federal legislation, and held conferences at its Fifth Avenue headquarters. Its activities were published in the Birth Control Review.[4]

A committee was formed of 100 women to support the birth control activism work of Margaret Sanger.[4] On the whole, though, the organization was subtler than Sanger in approach. It targeted much of its activities towards conservative and wealthy individuals. It eschewed membership of extremists, like Emma Goldman, and it particularly sought to spotlight the "scientific" aspects of birth control in an era when the topic was considered obscene.[5] Parents in 24 states were not allowed to discuss contraception with their married children.[6]

In 1919, Mary Dennett pushed for a birth control bill in the New York legislature, which failed. As a result the National Birth Control League was dismantled. Dennett immediately formed a new organization, the Voluntary Parenthood League. Her sole purpose was to revise federal obscenity-focused legislation to exclude birth control, rather than tackle the issue on a state-by-state basis.[7]

The organization's successor was the American Birth Control League, founded by Margaret Sanger[8] "to enlighten and educate all sections of the American public in the various aspects of the dangers of uncontrolled procreation and the imperative necessity of a world program of Birth Control."[2] The American Birth Control League later became Planned Parenthood.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Constance M. Chen (1996). The Sex Side of Life: Mary Ware Dennettʼs Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education. New Press. pp. 180–181. ISBN 978-1-56584-132-1. 
  2. ^ a b Ruth C. Engs (2003). The Progressive Era's Health Reform Movement: A Historical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-275-97932-4. 
  3. ^ Margaret Sanger (1917). The Birth Control Review. M. Sanger. p. 24. 
  4. ^ a b Margaret Sanger (1917). The Birth Control Review. M. Sanger. pp. 16, 24. 
  5. ^ David M. Kennedy (1 January 1970). Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger. Yale University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-300-01495-2. 
  6. ^ Ruth C. Engs (2003). The Progressive Era's Health Reform Movement: A Historical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-0-275-97932-4. 
  7. ^ David M. Kennedy (1 January 1970). Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger. Yale University Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-300-01495-2. 
  8. ^ "Birth Control Organizations > American Birth Control League History". Margaret Sanger Paper's Project, New York University. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Sanger Years". Planned Parenthood. Retrieved December 30, 2013.