Tag Archives: Birth Control

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

The once-seen movie

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

On May 6, 1917 about 200 people watched a private showing Margaret Sanger’s film, Birth Control. Sanger had scheduled  it to open publicly the next night, but New York officials banned it as obscene and it was never shown publicly. 

Discomfort regarding sexually-related topics has long been part of American culture. A result of that attitude is that access to reproductive information and obstetric treatment for American women been limited socially as well as legally.

Comstock Act

On March 3, 1873 the Comstock Act [named after Anthony Comstock, a U.S. postal inspector] amended the Post Office Act . Within that act it was illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this act also banned the distribution of information on abortion for educational purposes.

Vestiges of the act endured as the law of the land into the 1990s. In 1971 Congress removed the language concerning contraception, and federal courts until Roe v Wade in 1973 ruled that it applied only to “unlawful” abortions. After Roe, laws criminalizing transportation of information about abortion remained on the books, and, although they have not been enforced, they have been expanded to ban distribution of abortion-related information on the Internet.  [Britannica article]

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger, 1879 - 1966, despite her eugenics statements, is in many ways the most important American in terms of reproductive heath care for American women.

Sanger watched her mother Anne die  at the age of 49 after she had gone through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years.

In 1911 she and her husband moved to New York City where, as a visiting nurse, she saw the devastating effects of poverty on health, particularly women's health.

 As an aid to this heath issue, Sanger believed that women needed access to reproductive health information. Her activities in support of that belief were often illegal.
For example: in March 1914,  Sanger produced The Woman Rebel which instructed women on times when it would be wise for them to avoid pregnancy, such as in the case of illness or poverty. She did not give any instructions regarding specific methods for contraception, but the New York City postmaster banned the journal under the Comstock Law category of "obscene, lewd, lascivious" matter.

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Despite intense social and legal opposition, on October 16, 1916 Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn. The clinic served 448 people that first day. Ten days later the vice squad raided and shut down the clinic. The squad arrested Sanger and Byrne and confiscated all the condoms and diaphragms at the clinic.

               On November 1, 1921  the American Birth Control League was created through a merger of the National Birth Control League and the Voluntary Parenthood League. Led by Sanger, the new league became the leading birth control advocacy group in the country. The American Birth Control League eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. [Sanger did not like the term planned parenthood and continued to use the phrase "birth control."

Birth control pill

 Margaret Sanger's long term goal was a birth control pill, yet laws against any form of birth control continued to be enacted and upheld in court [February 1, 1943, in Tileston v. Ullman, the Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut law banning the use of drugs or instruments that prevented conception.]

In the early 1940s, researchers began to discover chemicals that could affect ovulation and on April 25, 1951,Margaret Sanger managed to secure a tiny grant for researcher Gregory Pincus from Planned Parenthood.  Pincus begins initial work on the use of hormones as a contraceptive.  Within a year his research supports the idea, but Planned Parenthood decided not to support further research because it was too risky. In 1953 Sanger was able to gain financial support for Pincus's research. In 1955 human clinical trials proved that the "pill" was 100% effective.

It was still six years later before the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill. It first went on sale in December 1960. Despite continued social, legal, and religious opposition, by 1964 some four million women were using the drug.              

Griswold v. Connecticut

On June 7, 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court struck down the one remaining state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples.

After an adult lifetime of fighting for women's heath rights, Margaret Sanger died on September 6, 1966. [NYT obit]

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November 13

November 13

Mrs White bans Communist Robin Hood

November 13
Obama as Robin Hood
November 13, 1953, The Red Scare, McCarthyism, and the Cold War: Mrs. Thomas J. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission, called for the removal of references to the book Robin Hood from textbooks used by the state's schools. Mrs. Young claimed that there was "a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That's the Communist line. It's just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat." She went on to attack Quakers because they "don't believe in fighting wars." This philosophy, she argued, played into communist hands. (click for more >>> Mrs Thomas White's anti-Robin Hood campaign)

Birth Control, Margaret Sanger

November 13, 1921,  Birth Control: the first national birth control conference in the U.S. (see Nov 11) was scheduled to end with an event featuring several speakers, but it was abruptly ended when New York City police intervened and removed Margaret Sanger and one other speaker from the stage. Sanger was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct. The New York Time's article headline was: A mass meeting to discuss "Birth Control: Is It Moral?" was broken up by the police at the Town Hall last night. Hundreds of men and women, many socially prominent, derided the police and urged the speakers to defy the order not to speak. (click >>> Full NYT article)

November 13

Black History, Hansberry v. Lee and housing

November 13
Whites only housing
November 13, 1940, BLACK HISTORY: the US Supreme Court ruled in Hansberry v. Lee that whites cannot bar African Americans from white neighborhoods. (click for more information >>> University of North Carolina site)

Browder v. Gayle

November 13
le
November 13, 1956, BLACK HISTORY: the US Supreme Court declined the appeal of a US District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that had declared unconstitutional Alabama's state and local laws requiring segregation on buses, thereby ending the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Court affirmed a ruling by a three-judge Federal court that held the challenged statutes "violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

Fourth Amendment, United States v. Jeffers

November 13, 1951, Fourth Amendment: United States v. Jeffers. Without a warrant, two police officers had entered a District of Columbia hotel room rented to the aunts of Anthony Jeffers when neither they nor Jeffers were present. The police searched the room and seized 19 bottles of cocaine and one bottle of codeine. Jeffers claimed ownership of the contraband and was charged and convicted of violating narcotics laws in a District Court despite his motion to suppress the evidence seized without a warrant as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
In affirming the ruling of the Court of Appeals, Justice Clark held that the warrantless seizure did violate the Fourth Amendment and that the narcotics should have been excluded as evidence at Jeffers trial. Justice Clark wrote "The search and seizure were not incident to a valid arrest; and there were no exceptional circumstances to justify their being made without a warrant."
The Government had argued in this case that no property rights within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment existed in the seized narcotics because they were contraband as declared by Congress in 26 U.S.C. 3116. Justice Clark dismissed their argument, holding that, for purposes of the exclusionary rule, it was property and that Jeffers was entitled to motion to have it suppressed as evidence at trial but that, because it was contraband, he was not entitled to have it returned to him. (click >>> Unlawful evidence)

Vietnam, VP Spiro T. Agnew

November 13
Agnew criticizes media
November 13, 1968,  Vietnam: speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew accused network television news departments of bias and distortion, and urged viewers to lodge complaints.

March Against Death

November 13

 

November 13

November 13, 1969, Vietnam: in Washington, as a prelude to the second moratorium against the war scheduled for the following weekend, protesters staged a symbolic "March Against Death." The march began at 6 p.m. and drew over 45,000 participants, each with a placard bearing the name of a soldier who had died in Vietnam. The marchers began at Arlington National Cemetery and continued past the White House, where they called out the names of the dead. The march lasted for two days and nights. This demonstration and the moratorium that followed did not produce a change in official policy--although President Nixon was deeply angered by the protests, he publicly feigned indifference and they had no impact on his prosecution of the war. (click >>> NYT article)

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

November 13

November 13, 1982, Vietnam: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. (click >>> NYT article on memorial)

 

November 13

November 13, 1995, TERRORISM: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: a car bomb exploded at the U.S. military headquarters, killing 5 U.S. military servicemen. From the New York Times, More than 20 American investigators and hundreds of Saudi security officials searched the rubble of an American-run military training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today, looking for clues to the bombing that killed six people, including five Americans. (click >>> full NYT article)

 

October 26

October 26

October 26, 1825, Technological Milestone & US Labor History: after eight years and at least 1,000 worker deaths—mostly Irish immigrants—the 350-mile Erie Canal opened, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop that "so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction (last rites) to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick." Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York, the driving force behind the project, led the opening ceremonies and rode the canal boat Seneca Chief from Buffalo to New York City.

                On October 26, 1866, the Texas legislature passed a law redefining the circumstances in which blacks could testify in court. Rather than simply establish that black people would have full and equal rights to testify, Texas lawmakers crafted a statute that provided that “persons of color shall not testify” except in cases where “the prosecution is against a person who is a person of color; or where the offense is charged to have been committed against the person or property of a person of color.”

                In civil cases between white parties and in criminal prosecutions of white people not charged with offenses against a black person, black people remained second-class citizens with no right to air their grievances in a court of law. In addition, even in the cases in which black witnesses were permitted to speak, few could have much faith in the promise of equal justice -- a court system that limited rights based on the color of one’s skin also was likely to judge credibility by those same terms. 

October 26

October 26, 1916, Birth Control: Margaret Sanger's clinic was raided by the vice squad and shut down. The women are arrested and all the condoms and diaphragms at the clinic are confiscated. (click for followup article → Sanger freed on bail)

October 26,1954, FREE SPEECH: the Comic Book Code adopted on this day paralleled the earlier motion picture code (June 13, 1934) and was intended to “clean up” comic books so that they would not cause young people to become juvenile delinquents. The context of the code was a national panic over juvenile delinquency in the 1950s.

October 26, 1955, Teenage Culture: Rebel Without a Cause movie release. The NY Times states: It is a violent, brutal, and disturbing picture of modern teen-agers.... Young people neglected by their parents or given no understanding and moral support by fathers and mothers who are themselves unable to achieve balance and security in their home...It is a picture to make the hair stand on end.

October 26, 1960, BLACK HISTORY & MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: Coretta Scott King and others were seriously worried that King might be lynched while in custody. Word of this reached John Kennedy’s presidential election campaign team, and they decided that Kennedy should call her. Kennedy did, on this day, and expressed his sympathy about her husband’s situation. He did not promise to take any action, but his brother, Robert Kennedy called both the governor of Georgia and the judge in the case, and that was thought to have had some effect. King was promptly released the next day, on October 27, 1960.
October 26October 26, 1962, The Cold War & Cuban Missile Crisis: in one of the most dramatic verbal confrontations of the Cold War, American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asked his Soviet counterpart during a Security Council debate whether the USSR had placed missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped.

October 26 – November 1, 1963,  a year after being the Billboard #1 album, Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Peter, Paul, and Mary  was again the #1 album. [Pete Seeger and Lee Hays wrote  If I Had a Hammer in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary. The Weavers released the song under the title "The Hammer Song" as a 78 single in March, 1950 on Hootenanny Records.  

October 26

October 26

October 26, 1965, The Beatles: Queen Elizabeth presents the Beatles with the Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal. (click → NYT article)

October 26  &  27, 1968, The San Francisco Pop Festival was held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
  • Johnny Rivers
  • Jose Feliciano
  • Eric Burdon & The Animals
  • Iron Butterfly
  • Fraternity of Man
  • Buddy Miles Express
  • Rejoice
  • Womb
  • The Chambers Brothers
  • Canned Heat
  • The Grass Roots
  • Procol Harum
  • Deep Purple
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • The Loading Zone

San Francisco Pop Festival

(click for more → from djtee’s site)

October 26

October 26, 1970, BLACK HISTORY & Muhammad Ali: certain states and boxing commissions had begun to consider allowing Ali to fight. After a three-year exile, Muhammad Ali returned to the ring in Atlanta to fight Jerry Quarry. Ali knocked out Quarry in the third round.

October 26, 1972, Vietnam, National security adviser Henry Kissinger declared "peace is at hand" in Vietnam.

October 26, 1973: the Yom Kippur War ends.

October 26, 1976, ”SCOTTSBORO BOYS”: Alabama Governor George Wallace pardoned Clarence Norris. Norris and the others had been falsely convicted of the rape of Ruby Bates 45 years earlier on April 7, 1931. Ruby Bates died on October 27, 1976.

October 26, 2001, TERRORISM & Fourth Amendment: President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act, giving authorities unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists.

October 26, 2005, Iraq War II:  American military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000