The Pivot of Civilizationby Margaret Sanger
Principles and Aims of the American Birth Control League
The complex problems now confronting America as the result of the practice of reckless procreation are fast threatening to grow beyond human control.
Everywhere we see poverty and large families going hand in hand. Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly. People who cannot support their own offspring are encouraged by Church and State to produce large families. Many of the children thus begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; many become criminals. The burden of supporting these unwanted types has to be bourne by the healthy elements of the nation. Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to the maintenance of those who should never have been born.
In addition to this grave evil we witness the appalling waste of women's health and women's lives by too frequent pregnancies. These unwanted pregnancies often provoke the crime of abortion, or alternatively multiply the number of child-workers and lower the standard of living.
To create a race of well born children it is essential that the function of motherhood should be elevated to a position of dignity, and this is impossible as long as conception remains a matter of chance.
We hold that children should be
1. Conceived in love; 2. Born of the mother's conscious desire; 3. And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health.
Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.
Every mother must realize her basic position in human society. She must be conscious of her responsibility to the race in bringing children into the world.
Instead of being a blind and haphazard consequence of uncontrolled instinct, motherhood must be made the responsible and self-directed means of human expression and regeneration.
These purposes, which are of fundamental importance to the whole of our nation and to the future of mankind, can only be attained if women first receive practical scientific education in the means of Birth Control. That, therefore, is the first object to which the efforts of this League will be directed.
The American Birth Control League aims to enlighten and educate all sections of the American public in the various aspects of the dangers of uncontrolled procreation and the imperative necessity of a world program of Birth Control.
The League aims to correlate the findings of scientists, statisticians, investigators, and social agencies in all fields. To make this possible, it is necessary to organize various departments:
RESEARCH: To collect the findings of scientists, concerning the relation of reckless breeding to the evils of delinquency, defect and dependence;
INVESTIGATION: To derive from these scientifically ascertained facts and figures, conclusions which may aid all public health and social agencies in the study of problems of maternal and infant mortality, child-labor, mental and physical defects and delinquence in relation to the practice of reckless parentage.
HYGIENIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL instruction by the Medical profession to mothers and potential mothers in harmless and reliable methods of Birth Control in answer to their requests for such knowledge.
STERILIZATION of the insane and feebleminded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases, with the understanding that sterilization does not deprive the individual of his or her sex expression, but merely renders him incapable of producing children.
EDUCATIONAL: The program of education includes: The enlightenment of the public at large, mainly through the education of leaders of thought and opinion-teachers, ministers, editors and writers-to the moral and scientific soundness of the principles of Birth Control and the imperative necessity of its adoption as the basis of national and racial progress.
POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE: To enlist the support and cooperation of legal advisers, statesmen and legislators in effecting the removal of state and federal statutes which encourage dysgenic breeding, increase the sum total of disease, misery and poverty and prevent the establishment of a policy of national health and strength.
ORGANIZATION: To send into the various States of the Union field workers to enlist the support and arouse the interest of the masses, to the importance of Birth Control so that laws may be changed and the establishment of clinics made possible in every State.
INTERNATIONAL: This department aims to cooperate with similar organizations in other countries to study Birth Control in its relations to the world population problem, food supplies, national and racial conflicts, and to urge upon all international bodies organized to promote world peace, the consideration of these aspects of international amity.
THE AMERICAN BIRTH CONTROL LEAGUE proposes to publish in its official organ "The Birth Control Review," reports and studies on the relationship of controlled and uncontrolled populations to national and world problems.
The American Birth Control League also proposes to hold an annual Conference to bring together the workers of the various departments so that each worker may realize the inter-relationship of all the various phases of the problem to the end that National education will tend to encourage and develop the powers of self-direction, self-reliance, and independence in the individuals of the community instead of dependence for relief upon public or private charities.