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Margaret Sanger Starts First Birth Control Clinic

Friday, July 18, 2003

A special daily feature of Women's Enews during Women's History Month

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A special daily feature of Women's Enews during Women's History Month
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(WOMENSENEWS)--1916. Margaret Sanger starts the first birth control clinic in the United States, in Brooklyn, N.Y. It is thought that Emma Goldman might have introduced Sanger to the birth control issue.

Margaret Higgins Sanger had worked as a visiting nurse on the Lower East Side of New York City. She said a patient, Sadie Sachs, who died after an unintended pregnancy, was Sanger's inspiration for activism.

Ten days after Sanger's clinic opened, she was arrested for violating laws against giving out birth control information. Her sister Ethel Byrne, working at the clinic as well, also was arrested and jailed.

The tide of unchecked hostility toward Sanger's work turned in 1929, when police raided her New York clinic, impounding medical records. The medical community rose up to rally for Sanger.

For a half-century, Sanger operated clinics, organized against Comstock censorship laws and educated people about women's need for reproductive choice.

In 1942, the American Birth Control League, which Sanger had founded in 1921, became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Her work continues.

For more information:

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/