For any woman, the decision to allow a tiny freeloader to take up residence in her body for nine months is a serious one. It would help to have all the relevant information, right? Back in 1916, reproductive rights advocate Margaret Sanger was arrested for giving women information about their own bodies.
Babies are a bummer
Sanger was no stranger to the serious problems baby-making creates. Through her work as an obstetric nurse, Sanger saw how birthin’ lots o’ babies while in poverty was killing women and infants.
Women had nothing but Granny Edna’s bad advice on avoiding pregnancy and telling hubby to keep it in his pants wouldn’t cut it.
Open season on birds and bees
While out attending to a patient, Sanger witnessed the patient beg for information on how to avoid pregnancy. The doctor told her to not have sex. That was all. No birds and bees talk. Several months later, Sanger returned to attend this same patient, except this time, the patient died.
Unfortunately, the law didn’t get it. The Comstock Act of 1873 made it a crime to use the US Postal Service to send anything considered or information about an obscenity, contraceptive or sex toy. To say it was interpreted loosely in many cases would be an understatement.
On October 16, 1916, Sanger opened a clinic in Brooklyn with the aid of two other women. There any woman could walk in, pay her ten cents and get basic medical information on her reproductive system and birth control. Someone must have had a bee in their bonnet because Sanger and her colleagues were arrested on October 26th, just ten days after opening the clinic.
Sanger and her colleagues reopened the clinic as soon as they were released. And were arrested again. It was just the opening skirmish in Sanger’s life-long fight for women’s health and well-being through reproductive information and birth control.