The First Birth Control Clinic in the US
In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. With the help of her sister Ethel Byrne, a registered nurse, and Fania Mindell, a Yiddish interpreter, the three women provided contraceptive information to hundreds of women for nine days while the clinic was open.
Prior to the clinic’s opening, Sanger had already been arrested for publishing birth control pamphlets and challenging the Comstock laws which made birth control information, consumption, and distribution illegal and obscene. Sanger’s passion for contraceptive access stemmed from her experiences as a nurse in poor New York communities where she witnessed the fatal effects on women not able to plan their pregnancies as well as seeing her mother die of exhaustion after eighteen pregnancies.
Knowing how controversial opening an illegal clinic would be, Sanger wrote a letter to the district attorney to let him know about the clinic in hopes of getting arrested so she could challenge the Comstock laws in court. When arrested during the clinic’s raid, Sanger marched ahead of the police to the local jail, making her arrest public to help draw attention in which she used to her advantage.
How does the rest of Margaret Sanger’s story turn out? Check out this great podcast episode below to find out!
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