Margaret Sanger is a well known women’s rights activist and was one of the most influential women of all time. She is best known for her actions in support of birth control and helping women learn and understand more about contraceptives.
1. Sanger was a nurse during her career and was very dedicated to the cause of getting inexpensive birth control for all women who wanted access to it. She was a practicing nurse until 1912 when she left the profession to devote her time to helping other women with birth control. She decided to be a nurse because she wanted to help other people, especially women. She was also concerned about the general health of women after the death of her mother from tuberculosis.
2. Sanger was considered by many people to be a radical and published a paper called The Women Rebel. It was a newspaper that advocated birth control for women. People accused the publication of being obscene which lead to Sanger fleeing the country and going to Europe for sanctuary. Several states including New York outlawed the paper because of the radical views that were expressed in it.
3. In 1916, she founded a clinic in Brooklyn which people said was against state law. She was arrested, along with several other people including her sister, and served a 30 day sentence in prison for distributing information about contraceptives. After this event occurred, she took leadership of the fight for free access to birth control for women.
4. Sanger wrote a series of articles for the New York Call called What Every Girl Should Know. These articles were later published together as a book in 1914. Many of her publications were suppressed and accused of being lewd and sexual in nature and it was illegal in many places to distribute this type of information.
5. While she was in exile in Europe and England, she met with British feminists and other radical thinkers of the day and further developed her ideas and promoted her cause. These Europeans influenced her ideas on sexual politics; Havelock Ellis influenced her most.
6. Margaret Sanger helped found the American Birth Control League in 1921 which eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942. Planned Parenthood is a very well know organization today and is present in many different countries all over the world.
7. Margaret achieved a small victory when the state of New York Appellate Court amended the Comstock law which allowed physicians to legally distribute contraceptive information and medications.
8. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Margaret lectured across Europe and Asia advocating women’s public health, rights and access to birth control. She communicated that birth control was an effective way to prevent the spread of birth defects and other degenerative problems.
9. Margaret Sanger died in 1965 at the age of 86, a few months after the Supreme Court decided on the Griswold v. Connecticut case which legalized contraception for married couples. She was able to see much of her life work culminate with that decision.
10. In 1927, Sanger became world famous when she spoke at the first World Population Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Her support of freer laws for women regarding birth control brought her fame and renown all over the world. She is also considered one of the most influential people of all time and is listed on the TIME 100 list of the 100 most influential people from the last 100 years. It is a significant achievement to be on this list and to receive the recognition that was awarded to Margaret Sanger.