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Margaret Sanger

Society's View - By: Renae Flores

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Biography - By: Roxanne Velicsanyi
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Margaret's Inspiration - By: Renae Flores
Margaret's Experiences - By: Teri Worrell
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"Leadership sometimes means loneliness. Ideals so far in advance of public opinion as to be bitterly opposed, may breed sternness. For you to keep your kindliness and tenderness is one of the traits your friends most prize." -Robert Dickinson, M.D., speaking of friend Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger's crusade for birth control evoked both support and controversy from the public, religious groups, and doctors. Margaret's struggle for public acceptance proved to be extremely difficult, especially amongst the conservatives and Catholic community. Margaret's fearless personality ensued, and she dutifully continued to rally and educate the public about birth control. She provided the public with information on contraceptives, and traveled across the world to promote her cause. Margaret's lobbying resulted in a majority of every state supporting the legalization of birth control. A major poll conducted by the Ladies' Home Journal found seventy-nine percent of its readers in favor of birth control. Of that percentage, fifty-one percent were Catholic. A majority of women favored birth control so they could space or limit the number of their children in accordance with family income.

Margaret Sanger also withstood many attacks from the Catholic church, and even the Pope himself. The Catholic church believed in the foundation of tradition, and viewed abstinence as the solution to birth control. According to Pope Pius XI, "the conjugal act is of it's very nature designed for the procreation of offspring; and therefore those performing it deliberately deprived of it's natural power and efficacy, act against nature and do something shameful and intrinsically immoral". The Catholic church eventually ended its battle with Margaret, and continued to focus on supporting abstinence.

Margaret Sanger's other prominent opposition was with the doctors and the American Medical Association. Many doctors felt their respectability would be in jeopardy if they endorsed contraceptives. The American Medical Association resisted Margaret's efforts for birth control as well. Undaunted, she continued her crusade with the medical community by giving pamphlets on instruction in techniques to the few doctors who sought her out. Dr. Dickinson, a doctor and later friend of Margarets, was thoroughly convinced of her cause. He lent Margaret great support and advocacy for her fight for birth control.

Margaret Sanger's ascending battle took over forty years, and in the end, persuaded women that it was within their power to decide how many children they would have. Though the public initially perceived Margaret as disdainful and immoral, her combat was victorious when the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut "the use of contraception is a constitutional right."