Margaret Sanger Biography – American Birth-Control Advocate

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Who is Margaret Sanger? What did Margaret Sanger do? Information on Margaret Sanger biography, life story and career.

Margaret Sanger; (1883-1966), American birth-control advocate who was a founder and leader of the birth-control movement in the United States. She promoted the idea of birth control as a basic human right that should be available to all.

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Margaret Sanger Biography - American Birth-Control Advocate

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger was born in Corning, N. Y., on Sept. 14, 1883, sixth of the 11 children of Michael and Anne Purcell Higgins. She attended Claverack College, then studied nursing at White Plains (N. Y.) Hospital and at Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital. In 1900 she married William Sanger, an architect. To supplement the family income after the birth of her second son, Mrs. Sanger worked as an obstetrical nurse in the lower East Side of Manhattan. She was divorced from Sanger, but retained his name professionally, and in 1922 married the industrialist Noah H.’ Slee.

The turning point of Mrs. Sanger’s life had come in 1912, when a young tenement mother died in her arms of a self-induced abortion. Mrs. Sanger determined to emancipate women from what she viewed as the servitude of unwanted pregnancy. In 1913 she went to Europe, where contraceptive knowledge was more advanced. While studying there she coined the term “birth control.”

After returning to the United States in 1914, she founded the magazine Woman Rebel to advance her views. In defiance of New York law, she opened in 1916 the first birth-control clinic in the United States in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. The clinic was soon raided, and Mrs. Sanger was arrested and jailed. Despite numerous other arrests and formidable opposition, she pursued her cause. Through speaking tours in the United States and in Europe, and by means of published articles, she gradually interested some influential people. In 1917, with the help of suffragette leaders, she founded the National Birth Control League, which became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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Mrs. Sanger was instrumental in organizing the first International Birth Control Congress, which met in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1927. The culmination of her work came in 1952, in Bombay, India, when the International Planned Parenthood Federation was established, with Margaret Sanger as its first president. She died on Sept. 6, 1966, in Tucson, Ariz.

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