Margaret Higgins Sanger

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Sanger, Margaret Higgins,

1879–1966, American leader in the birth controlbirth control,
practice of contraception for the purpose of limiting reproduction. Methods of Birth Control

Male birth control methods include withdrawal of the male before ejaculation (the oldest contraceptive technique) and use of the condom, a rubber sheath
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 movement, b. Corning, N.Y. Personal experience and work as a public-health nurse, much of it on New York City's Lower East Side, convinced her that family planning, especially where poverty was a factor, was a necessary step in social progress. She studied in London with Havelock EllisEllis, Havelock
(Henry Havelock Ellis), 1859–1939, English psychologist and author. He became a qualified physician but devoted himself to scientific study and writing. Although the first volume of the Studies in the Psychology of Sex (7 vol.
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 and others and, back in the United States, began her campaign almost single-handedly. Indicted in 1915 for sending birth control information through the mails and arrested the next year for conducting a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, Sanger gradually won support from the public and the courts. A clinic opened (1923) in New York City functioned until the 1970s. She organized the first American (1921) and international (1925) birth control conferences and formed (1923) the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control. She was president of the committee until its dissolution (1937) after birth control under medical direction was legalized in most of the states. In the 1960s, Sanger actively supported the use of the newly available birth control pill. She visited many countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia, lecturing and helping to establish clinics. Her books include Woman and the New Race (1920), Happiness in Marriage (1926), and an autobiography (1938).


See biographies by L. Lader (1955, repr. 1975), E. Chesler (1992), and J. H. Baker (2011); studies by D. M. Kennedy (1970) and E. T. Douglas (1975); L. V. Marks, Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill (2001); bibliography by R. and G. Moore (1986).

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