From the nineteen to the twentieth century contraception’s were forbidden just as well as abortions. It was illegal in a lot of states and countries. Women never used to have a choice on when they became pregnant, that’s when contraceptives came into play. There were also condoms, douches and diaphragms back then, but they were not as effective. After the movement, women were able to reclaim their bodies. The birth control movement was happening as well as women’s suffrage at the same time. Birth control has changed over the past years because of Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood, and eugenics.
Margaret Sanger fought for women to have birth control for many years as it was illegal in states and countries. She started the promotion towards birth control after her mother passed away which she conceived eleven children and had several miscarriages. Jacob Darwin Hamblin explains “In 1914 she began using the term birth control, and she promoted contraception despite the 1873 Comstock Act, which had made contraception illegal” (Hamblin). Later, Sanger was arrested for opening a clinic for women to get birth control.
Years later the courts ruled to have contraception’s for women to have them for health reasons. “In 1936, a more important decision was reached in a circuit court of appeals that contraceptive devices could be sent through the mail. This had at least two effects: It provided a way to circumvent the many state laws against birth control, and it proved to the medical establishment and industry that there might be a profitable market for improved methods of contraception” (Hamblin). Even though contraception’s were illegal, they still managed to be able to start sending birth control through the mail to be able to help those who needed it for health reasons. Then, Sanger opened a permanent clinic in 1923. She organized many companies to which lead to Planned Parenthood later.
Planned Parenthood was established in 1942. It served a variety of purposes, which were to educate and organize to open clinics for birth control. In the 1930s, African American woman remained involved in birth control duties. McCann describes, “Like white women, African American women saw birth control as a way to reduce maternal and infant deaths as well as the number of abortions” (McCann). Planned Parenthood prohibited segregation as they saw it did not change their work ethic if they hired diverse staff.
Although, the rhetoric failed it had proposed to expand the financial appeal, to contain men and family values. “By the 1970s the resurgence of feminism, concern about overpopulation, and the legalization of birth control and abortion revitalized Planned Parenthood” (McCann). Today the organization has over eight hundred clinics and provides services to over three million people. Birth control was to play a role in eugenics or selective breeding.
Eugenics role was to help with a way to reduce reproduction in the ones they called “unfit”. “Part of the problem, they believed, was that the limitations in birth control technology forced educated or conscientious women to self-select themselves and their potential offspring out of society. Birth control technology remained relatively stagnant during the first half of the century” (Hamblin). They started using contraception’s as another form instead of douches, diaphragms, and condoms as they were not very effective.
Although, Hamblin explains that “Eugenicists were ardent supporters of early birth control clinics in the 1920s and 1930s, and they also financed scientific efforts to find an alternative to traditional birth control technology” (Hamblin). Race suicide feared the racial configuration of society could remain conquered by ones who did not use birth control in example the poor, uneducated and the ethnic minorities. In addition, advocates used the eugenics benefit to inspire biologists, geneticists, and doctors for a way to study contraceptive technology.
Given these points, birth control has come a long way since the ninetieth and twentieth century. From Margaret Sanger who fought for woman to have the right to want to reproduce, to getting arrest for starting a clinic. Then later, Planned Parenthood came in 1942 which served its purpose to educate and organize birth control clinics. They also did not segregate their clinics as it did not change work ethics. There are now eight hundred clinics to provide services to those who need contraception’s. Also, eugenics was a way to help reduce reproduction for those who were unfit. Contraception’s became a more effective way than condoms, douches and diaphragms. This helped the biologists, geneticists and doctors study the contraceptive technology. All in all, birth control and other contraceptives was a trial and error until to became legal to where women can choose when they want to become pregnant.
- ‘Birth Control.’ Science in the Early Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia, Jacob Darwin Hamblin, ABC-CLIO, 1st edition, 2005. Credo Reference, http://ezproxy.apus.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abcscieth/birth_control/0?institutionId=8703. Accessed 02 Jan. 2019.
- Mccann, Carole R., and Carole R. McCann. ‘Planned Parenthood.’ The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History, edited by Wilma Pearl Mankiller, Houghton Mifflin, 1st edition, 1998. Credo Reference, http://ezproxy.apus.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/rcuswh/planned_parenthood/0?institutionId=8703. Accessed 02 Jan. 2019.
- White, Kim Kennedy. ‘Birth Control and the Birth Control Movement.’ World History Encyclopedia, Alfred J. Andrea, ABC-CLIO, 1st edition, 2011. Credo Reference, http://ezproxy.apus.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abccliow/birth_control_and_the_birth_control_movement/0?institutionId=8703. Accessed 02 Jan. 2019.