By: Margaret H. Sanger
March 26, 1911
Source: Sanger, Margaret H. “To Mothers—Our Duty.” The New York Call (March 26, 1911): 15
About the Author: Margaret Sanger (1879–1966) was a nurse who fought for public access to information on contraception in the early part of the twentieth century. Her efforts to disseminate birth control information led to her repeated arrest for violating the Comstock Law in the United States. She helped to found Planned Parenthood, an organization that helps provide health and gynecological care for women in the U.S.
Margaret Sanger’s opinions and actions reached into many sectors of American society in the first two decades of the twentieth century. As the daughter of a woman who bore eleven children and died by fifty, partly a result of repeated pregnancies and childbirth, Sanger saw firsthand the results of uncontrollable reproduction. Trained as a nurse, Sanger began to work in New York City’s Lower East side as industrialization and urbanization, combined with intense immigration as Jewish people from Eastern Europe fled repressive pogroms and discrimination in Europe, led to squalid conditions and public health crises in tenements and slums.
Sanger was approached, repeatedly, by poor and middle-class men and women alike, desperately seeking some form of contraception. Dissemination of information or supplies related to contraception was illegal under federal law in the United States; the 1873 Com-stock Law made it a crime to distribute information, literature, or supplies designed to aid in birth control. By 1912, Sanger realized that unfettered capitalism combined with unchecked reproduction was creating an underclass of poor children who were sent into the factories at young ages to help their families avoid starvation and eviction. In Sanger’s opinion, as stated in her 1915 essay “Comstockery in America,” “I saw that it is the working class children who fill the mills, factories, sweatshops, orphan asylums and reformatories, because through ignorance they were brought into the world, and this ignorance continues to be perpetuated.” Sanger sought to end the “ignorance” concerning birth control by offering families the needed information to control the size and timing of their families.
Sanger became a strong supporter of the Socialist Party as well, and in this essay, printed in 1911, before her work in the first birth control clinic in the U.S. and before her 1916 arrestfor violating the Comstock Law, we see the formation of her thoughts on the impact of capitalism, child labor, and unchecked reproduction on the family.
In this day and age, when women are striving to their utmost to compete with their sisters in matters of dress, fashion, in “bridge,” or anything which offers amusement or diversion from the old routine of our mothers’ day, we hear a great deal from the male element about “Woman’s Duty.” This question of “duty” seems to be a stickler, and seems to confine itself to woman only.
This “duty,” so called, means that women should remain at home, not necessarily to drudge—not at all—for among those women referred to above, the servant question forms a large part of their conversation; but “duty” means the care of the home of the children—the problem of feeding them carefully (even scientifically), of making their little bodies strong and robust, in fact, of giving them a good foundation mentally and physically—for life.
Most men think a woman’s duty is done when she attends to these needs of her children, but to me she has but begun to do her duty.
Let us take a young woman in the most ideal conditions of this life; she has given much thought and consideration to the life of her boy long before he was born, her every thought for almost a year was this child. He now comes into the world a rosy, healthy being, and she feels proud her work is so well begun; and she may well be proud.
Then Follows the years of care. Every conceivable attention, mental and moral, she gives him; his childhood, his boyhood, is one joyous song of the pleasures of living, and after years of these joys he emerges into manhood. He is now ready for the great battle of life.
This mother has done her duty, and she Sends him forth, clean, honest, moral, to get his living, but has she ever given the manner in which he is to obtain that living a thought? That is considered outside woman’s “duty.”
We women can build them up, these bodies and minds, build them up to our highest expectations and then push them out upon a world whose System greed, exploitation, graft and scientific robbery.
Can we expect these morals to stay built up in these corrupt surroundings? As this case is an ideal one, so it is an exceptional one; let us turn, then, to one which is no exception.
This is the case of the most abused, most dejected, most imposed upon class of mothers which our social system presents to us, and their number is legion.
Her we find the little mothers at 8, 9 and 10 years of age; here we see them already at work carrying responsibilities of the home factory or mill; education is a thing apart from this child, childhood yearnings are crushed, childish joys are barred here, there is time for but one thing—work. Work through childhood, through girlhood and womanhood.
she has given her childhood, girlhood, womanhood, her strength, her very life to the factory or mill for an existence, an existence which the owner of the factory would not allow his horse or dog. Her face is pale and pinched with that hunting look of poverty; it never changes—she is born, lives and dies with that look. She is married at night after the day’s work, that she lose not one day’s time.
On, on in the same monotonous way; on, on, waiting for the end. There’s no time for her to think of the little one’s coming; she must work only the harder because of its coming.
After months of worry, toil, privation and physical exhaustion this child, too, is born. Let us see what this woman gives to society. Her child is undersized, underfed, weak, sickly and often times deformed. It, too, has paid the price of birth; it has given its little strength with every heartbeat, that it may be born, and now it is here, cheated and swindled of its birthright.
women, arouse yourselves! If you are not so unfortunately placed, it is but a trick of circumstances.
If you are well clothed, well fed, today it is these women who have helped you to do so. And are you doing anything for these women? Ministers of the Gospel, what are you doing for these women and unborn babies? You reformers, conservatives, call yourselves what you wish, what are you doing for this condition of society which demands of its unborn such an awful price of birth? Do you think your duty is done if you have clothed or fed one or fifty of these victims for a day, a week, a year, perhaps? Oh, mothers, sisters, women of this land, awake! How can you slumber when these conditions exist?
The day is passed when we can selfishly protect our own. In order to protect our own, in matters of disease, in conditions where milk, water, food or drugs are unsafe for our own loved ones, we cannot hesitate to fight for all, for we realize we can only save our own by so doing.
Again I say: women awake, awake to this system and help these downtrodden women back to their homes, back to their little ones, back to that which belongs to every mother—the care and love of her offspring.
By the way, do we ever hear the male element, who so strongly advocate “home duty” for the “bridge” mother, advocate home duty for these women? It is only the “bridge” women’s children who need the care and attention of the mother, evidently.
Let us turn to the mother we have just beheld with her new-born infant. What is to be done with this subnormal piece of humanity? Does it not need even more care and attention than a normal child? But what does it get? Dire poverty drives this mother back again to the factory (no intelligent person will say she goes willingly). It is the fear of the loss of a job, debts and another mouth to feed that compels her to leave this newborn infant in the care of any one who has the room to keep it. Any friend or neighbor who works at home can take care of this little waif.
We all know the type—hard working, ignorant, with scarcely time to attend to the actual needs of her own.
The little one is placed here among the filth and debris of the workshop. It grows through babyhood and childhood motherless, fatherless and moral-less.
Of course, there are other alternatives, such as the charity kindergartens, but always the mother on the industrial field is cheated of love and care of her offspring.
In this age of Christianity, in this advanced twentieth century, when science has discovered the methods of breeding the finest horses and dogs, when science has turned its searchlight upon every form of plant life; upon the different parasites which tend to destroy plant life, what has it done toward extricating the parasite poverty, which destroys humanity? Senator Owen, of Oklahoma, said recently:
“We spend $500,000 to exterminate the insect that eats the cotton plant…. We have millions for conservation of the forests. Our Senators and Representatives jump to their feet the minute one mentions raising the tariff on wool or on steel, but we can get no such interest when it comes to savings human lives….”
If man would do his duty to Human Beings, as well as he does to Things, we [would] have no need of leaving the little ones to the care of strangers all day. We would have no need of giving our babies lives to the factory before they are born. We would have no need of seeing our little ones grow up in mental, moral, and physical starvation. We would have no need of suffering the awful pangs, of seeing them go out of the world, so soon, pangs which are so much keener than those which bring them here. All these and a thousand other sufferings and evils could be stamped out if man would do his duty.
There are two steps toward progress in this universe—organization and specialization. Mothers, let us not consider we are progressing. Let us not consider we have done our duty, until we have first organized. Then let us specialize in attacking and stamping out this social system.
We must organize—all women who have one vestige of love in our hearts, for children; all women who have interest in the progress of humanity; all should organize, but not alone.
We should organize under a banner which advocates our cause. We should join the party (there is but one, the Socialist party) which solves the problems of each and every grievance of these working women and children.
First, we should demand through this party absolute equality of the sexes.
Second, to put back the mothers or the prospective mothers, into The homes, and give her a pension sufficient to keep herself and child. I can hear wails of protest concerning this last demand, on the ground that it will make vagrants of the fathers or will give them more time and money for saloons. All I can ask is that you look into this, find out what has been done, and the results you will find will remove that argument It has been the experience of those interested in this, that when a man feels his burdens partly lifted, he is mentally and physically better fitted for life’s work.
Third, to support and educate the children, and by support we mean clearly to feed and clothe them, until they are at least 16 years of age.
Fourth, to keep every child, regardless of race, color, or creed, in this United States out of all factories, mills and all industrial fields which tend to dwarf the physical or mental development of the children.
Last, to pull down completely this system, which mangles and stunts the minds, morals and bodies of our boys and men; to fight this awful viper, which undoes all our life’s work, to crush and stamp it out forever. This, mothers, is a duty which must go hand in hand with our every day duties, or our life’s work will be all for nothing.
A Mini Biography of who Margaret Sanger was.
Margaret Sanger, was a pioneer in the battle to establish birth control through-out the years. She is the founder, of the international planned parenthood foundation. Margaret Sanger, was born September 14 1879 she was born in to a Roman Catholic church to a working class Irish American family. in New York in 1910 she started a publication promoting a woman’s right to birth control.
Margaret in 1896 attended Hudson River Institute where she started nursing at White Plains Hospital. Sanger watched her mother suffer many miscarriages, Margaret believe that the miscarriages was the cause of her mother’s early death, at the age of 40.
Margaret after marriage, and having three children of her own, Sanger began to educate women about sex education, in 1912 in a newspaper column, called every women should know.
Margaret started to working, in a neighborhood that was stricken by poverty, she the joined the women committee of the New York socialist party and the liberal club. It was then that she met women who have received back alley abortion, or tried to self terminate pregnancies. This was women who did not have no control over their bodies, and were being raped , or physically abused by their husbands, or just did not want to have no more children. Sanger sympathised with the women, and the unnecessary suffering so she fought to make birth control and contraceptives available.
Rocca, C. H. (2013). Women’s emotions one week after receiving or being denied an abortion in the United States. Perspectives On Sexual And Reproductive Health. Perspectives On Sexual And Reproductive Health, 122-131
To Mothers—Our Duty.” Family in Society: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, and Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 257-260. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 14 Dec. 2015
Richards, C. (2015, September 29). Planned Parenthood President stands Up to GOP grilling. (R. Maddow, Interviewer)
Women’s Emotions One Week After Receiving or Being
Denied an Abortion in the United States
According to the author Rocca, Corinne, who did research on the emotional state of women after an abortion, or been denied statements like the ones doctor Anthony Levatino makes only looks at abortions from the negative point of view, whereas later on in the article after conducting research expresses that “The vast majority of women who received abortions 95% reported one week later that having the procedure was the right decision for them” (Corinne,2013p6). This Collaborate with what the President Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood suggest that a woman should have the option to make her own choice.
This article focus on women whose rights was taken, and the emotions that were suffered after they receive the abortion or did not.” Outside of policy making arguments that women need protection from abortion because it may have negative psychological or emotional effects have been mobilized to shift public opinion” (Corinne,2013p1). So that stigma that have been attached to women who choose to be pro-choice have been made by people who bias on the situation, and these are the people that are making the policies such as the GOP,no one talks about the cases when abortions are necessary when it saves a women life, or when a woman have been raped.
If individuals look at the picture with an open eye, an not a bias one they would see that motherhood is not something someone should be forced into, you have to be mentally ready for the responsibility that come along being a mother, and that is why Corrine expressed that “Among women who had obtained an abortion 24% reported feeling primarily negative emotions a week later and 35% reported feeling primarily positive emotions another 23% had a low emotional response feeling few or no response and 18% had mixed emotions” as you can see the highest percentage represented the women who were pro-choice.
|Cancerof the Soul|
Illinois, United States
|In 1977, I was an unwed mother of two boys. In those days they were referred to as “illegitimate.” When I was pregnant with my second son, I lost my family. I was the official “black sheep,” and they wanted nothing to do with me. When I was pregnant a third time, I knew I had to have an abortion. My kids and I had just been allowed back into our family, and I didn’t want us to lose that again. Even though I was pro-life, I decided for an abortion.
Mine took place at a local hospital. I wasn’t in good shape the entire time; I was either numb inside or crying. Raised a Catholic, I knew this was a very grave sin. Afterward, instead of feeling relieved that my “problem” was taken care of, I began a downward spiral of self-hatred and abuse. I found escape in drinking and smoking pot. Spiritually , I was dying inside; it was a tragic cancer of the soul. I could never look in the mirror again and see anything but ugliness.
After a painful divorce about 16-18 years later, I returned to my church. I went to confession, but I still never spoke of my abortion outside the confessional. I found a church that had many activities in which I could get involved. The people were warm and loving. The priest there had hired me to work for him. He was very good to me and my youngest son, who was born during my marriage.
One day I learned that a young woman in my parish was coming in to see Father because she was thinking of having an abortion. I believe the Holyprompted me to go to Father and share my story with him. I wanted to witness to this young lady not to do this tragic thing. That’s when I learned that he was involved with Rachel’s Vineyard. He began counseling me himself and brought much healing into my heart and soul. He reminded me that although my sin was a very grave matter, the Mercy of the Lord is greater; there is no sin that God wouldn’t forgive if we had true sorrow.
I began a time of healing. I planted a rosebush with an angel statue in my yard as a memorial to my child. I named her and wrote her a letter. All this helped me greatly, yet there was more work for me to do. I still never spoke about her or the abortion in a public way. I wasn’t ready.
Today, 40 years after the abortion, I am ready to “fight the good fight,” as St. Paul said. I know in my heart that only those of us who have had an abortion can speak the truth about the damage it does to the women. It can literally destroy you from the inside out. I am both scared and excited to speak out at our Pro-Life Prayer Service in January. For the first time in 40 years, I don’t have to be hidden in any way. I am going to make a difference in the lives of other women. There is bound to be some woman listening to my talk who is imprisoned by this same secret. God is going to use me to help her find healing. There is going to be someone who is thinking of getting an abortion, and God is going to use my words to stop her. Good can come from evil when we allow the Lord into our healing. That is why I am SILENT NO MORE!
Kathy who lives in Chicago, her testimonial is to inform you of the aftermath that abortions caused mentally, and she believe her abortion is the cancer of the soul. Kathy expresses “That the guilt eats you up from the inside out” (Kathy, 2014). The guilt have done this to her for over forty years. She explains her situation, and the era,which she received the abortion it was a different time the year was 1977, she expresses that she was unwed ,with two other children at the time. Kathy hopes that her testimonial will prevent a woman from getting an abortion, but at the time she thought it was the right decision for her, and the family.
Silentnomoreawareness is a campaign that is geared towards giving women who have experienced an abortion a voice, the organization was started in November 2002. The campaign is ran by Christians that makes the public aware of the devastation of the aftermath of abortions. One of the goals of this campaign is to make the public to believe that abortions are unthinkable, and unnecessary so that is the aspect of it that makes it bias.
These people believe that a woman should make the choice, to become a mother on her own terms, and not when government say that it is appropriate. “No one can call herself free until she have the chopce to become a mother or not” (Sanger, 1911).
In the news lately there have been talk about pro-life, and pro- choice as it always is during every presidential race. Abortions is a very sensitive politically, and religiously, subject, however when the news broke about the center of medical progress, which is an pro-life organization wanting to release video tapes that allegedly showed doctors donating the fetus of babies to researcher for profit illegally, I knew it was time to pay attention.
Cecile Richards is the president of planned parent hood, who believe every one should be afforded the right to choose. She is willing to take on the Center of Medical Progress, over their bias against abortions. Richards argues that they are running a smear campaign. Richards wants congress to not allow the tapes to be shown stating that they place a negative spin on abortions.
In addition, to Richard’s outcry for a woman’s right to choose, a judge have ruled that the tapes be shown to congress, that could now be what is responsible for the shooting at that abortion clinic in Colorado that left 13 people shot and three people dead. To choose, or Not? Is the question that haunts up to 30% of women in the United States?
Planned parenthood have had an on going fight with the government since the late 1800s, this is nothing new everyone focuses on the abortion aspect of it instead of the many services that are provided to women such as breast exams, primary care, and ob gyn.
Congress want to defund planned parenthood, and this will be a disservice to women all around the world this decision will take back women rights to a time where we had no control over our body
has been a In this video Cecile Richards defends what planned parenthood is and all the services that are involved the GOP representative attempts to railroad her with made up statistics of abortions performed from her records except as her lawyer points out that the information is in fact from a source that is anti abortion, which makes the statistics bias.
This is a graph from a survey I conducted, that consisted of 25 participants 19 women,and 6 men.
Dr Anthony Levatino has been an Obstetrician Gynecologist for the last 33 years, whom in the beginning of his career admits to performing 1,200 abortions. In this video he gives us the gory details, on one of the abortions he performed on a woman that was 24 weeks at the time, which means that she was six months pregnant, and in the second trimester of her pregnancy at the time of the abortion. Dr Levatino go as far as to pull out an instrument that he explains is called a clamp, that is used to pull out of pieces of the baby during the procedure when a woman is that far progressed into her pregnancy, however, This video assumes that this video would persuade you to become pro-life from the graphic details. The Doctor states ” The procedure is brutal by nature”(Levatino, 2013). Dr Levatino is now pleading, to congress why abortions should be banned. The bias here, could be the guilt he now feels about the previous abortions he performed in the past, because he states that sometimes he sees the baby looking back at him.