Margaret Sanger constantly caused scandals and risked imprisonment by defying the Comstock Law of 1873, which outlawed contraceptive information and devices. Sanger felt that for women to have equal footing in society and to have physically and mentally healthy lives, women needed to be able to decide when a pregnancy would be most convenient. She also felt that access to birth control would allow women to fully enjoy the sexual experience because they would not be burdened by the fear or pregnancy.
While Sanger was working as a nurse she had a life changing experience, Sanger met a lady named Sadie Sachs when she was called to assist her after she had fallen ill due to a self-induced abortion. Sachs was nursed back to health and no longer needed Sanger’s services, until Sanger was called back to Sachs’s apartment, but this time she was found dead after another self-induced abortion. Spartacus Educational quotes Margaret Sanger describing her experience, “My patient was a small, slight Russian Jewess, about twenty-eight years old… The cramped three-room apartment was in a sorry state of turmoil. Jake Sachs, a truck driver scarcely older than his wife, had come home to find the three children crying and her unconscious from the effects of a self-induced abortion.” This life changing experience is what made Sanger believe more then ever that she needed to help her fellow sisters.
Sanger separated from her husband in 1913 and launched The Woman Rebel, a monthly newsletter promoting contraception with the slogan “No Gods and No Masters” and coined the term birth control. Sanger was indicted for violated US postal obscenity laws in August of 1914, but jumped bail and fled to England for a year.
Sanger remains a controversial figure and is credited as a leader of the modern birth control movement. Despite allegations of racism, Sanger worked with minorities and earned the respect of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.. In 1930, Sanger opened a family planning clinic in Harlem, New York and wanted to enlist support for contraceptives. The clinic served whites as well as blacks, as it “was established for the benefit of the colored people,” the Citizen Review Online quotes Margaret Sanger.
In 1957, the American Humanist Association named Margaret Sanger Humanist of the year. Sanger even has a residential building on Stony Brook University’s campus named after her and she has been the subject of films. Although she passed away September 6, 1966 her work will not soon be forgotten. She fought for rights for all women across America and impacted all of our lives. Margaret Sanger was a strong willed women that should not soon be forgotten and should serve as a role model for women across America.