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Margaret Sanger was born Margaret Higgins Sanger Slee in September 1879 in Corning, New York. Her mother Ann Purcell Higgins was a staunch catholic who had eighteen pregnancies but only managed to raise eleven children. Unfortunately, she succumbed to tuberculosis and cervical cancer, and died at the age of 86 years. Her father Michael Hennessy Higgins, on the other hand, was an atheist who curved stones as a source of his livelihood. Besides, Margaret Sanger’s father was a man who strongly championed the rights of women and campaigned for the establishment of free primary education for all in the United States.

DISCUSSION

Sanger was the sixth child in the family of eleven children. She spent her childhood years assisting the family in household chores and helping her mother to look after her younger siblings. Her experiences were humbling; she attended a boarding school in Claverack California courtesy of her sister’s financial assistance. During her school days in her new school, her mother became perpetually ill. Sanger had to suspend her classes to aid her ailing mother. Her father really insisted that the girl must be at her ailing mother’s side. Unfortunately, her mother later died in March 1896.

Her mother’s death devastated the girl, but it was not long before a well-wisher came to her aid. A mother of one of her friends at Claverack organized for Margaret Sanger’s enrollment in a nursing program in one of the most prestigious nursing colleges, in White Plains New York City. This was an eye-opening experience for a young girl who had already stated nurturing interest in nursing through caring her ailing mother. As if that was not enough, Sanger had developed tuberculosis. This came about because of nursing her mother. She married William Sanger in 1902, and the couple settled New York City.

Life was not very smooth for the couple; fire destroyed their house and property. Therefore, the couple had to move to their new home in the poor suburbs of Manhattan in New York. It was there that Sanger began acting to her calling, which was promoting women’s sexual health. She began using various avenues that were at her disposal to openly talk and educate women about their sexuality. She started writing in a column in one of the popular news papers of those time called New York call. Sanger spoke passionately about the need for people to have small families. She strongly advocated for bath control methods as a way of family planning.

She did not take too long before she had a brash with the law. By that time, it was a felony to disseminate contraceptive information. Sanger distributed pamphlets and publications about women’s sexual health and bath control techniques. Margaret’s courage stunned many people; she constantly caused a scandal. She ran the risk of arrest and being behind bars for long when she defiantly continued to distribute contraceptive information and plans oblivious of law at then. Sanger had a conviction that, in order for women to be stronger and contribute to national building, they should be in a position to decide the time to get pregnant as well as determining the number of children. By then, women had no right to object in the family matters. Men had sole rights to decide for women. It was the prerogative of men to decide how many children a woman should have regardless of the woman’s health status.

These seemed no to auger well with Sanger, right from her parents, she had known that her mother suffered because she had may children. She decided that she was going to be the woman’s mouthpiece irrespective of the danger she was likely to face. Deep in her mind, she knew that women needed to enjoy their lives, to have mental and physical health lives they needed to have an equal footing in the society. She proposed that time had come for a woman to choose the appropriate times for them to have pregnancies. She also supported the issue of using contraceptives on the other of women avoid getting unwanted pregnancies.

Her stand on women sexuality raffled feathers many quotas. Even her own father was not happy, before that, no woman dared speak about sexual matters in public. It was a taboo to talk about sex in public. Sanger did not just talk about sex, but she wanted women empowerment and proposed radical measures as far as family planning was concerned. Here, Margaret Sanger, a daughter of a peasant was busy disseminating contraceptive information. Such kind of information was contraband at that time. She did not even enjoy the support of women she was representing. Many of them looked at her as a woman who was spoilt and uncultured. With or without support Sanger never weathered in her quest to empower women’s sexuality and family planning.

In 1910, Sanger moved to New York. The move was instrumental to her cause. She got the necessary conditions that favored her calling. She soon teamed up with activities, intellectuals, and artist who welded a lot of influence in many quarters. She continued to work with the poor and the down trodden in the impoverished suburbs of New York City. The experiences there were humbling to Margaret. She was encouraged to champion the rights of women when it came to family planning. She could see women with very huge families, women who had over ten children in the house, with no sufficient basic needs. This fact advertently disturbed Sanger. She wondered for how long was the nation going to keep on giving birth to children who had nothing to eat, cloth or shelter in. she reckoned that the world must stop and listen. It is high time that people took their responsibilities seriously.

While working with women from poor suburbs in New York, Sanger realized and experienced firsthand how women were suffering because of frequent childbirth and self induced abortion. Sanger could see women who had many children and who probably were unable to feed them properly. She saw women who could not sufficiently nourish themselves. These experiences deeply humbled Margaret; she began to speak openly about the need for women to be educated about childbirth. This changed while still working in New York when she received a call to assist a patient. A prominent woman called Saddi Sachs had problems occasioned by self-induced abortion. The doctor who had attended to the woman cautioned her only to abstain if she did not want to be pregnant. Saddi went home. However, after a few months, Sanger was called to her Saddi’s house only to find out that, this time round, the victims were dead after succumbing to self-induced abortion.

Saddi Sach’s death was a revelation to Americans; people began experiencing fast hand what Sanger was advocating for and there was a broad consensus that they were a need to act. Sanger revealed in one of her articles that she received many complaints from mothers across the United States right from1920s running up to1950s; thousands of miserable young mothers wrote letters to her. The women stated that they have heard her crusade, and that they were looking up to her as a savior. Sanger was really encouraged by the women’s response. Nevertheless, what disturbed her most was that these women needed an urgent solution, which was not forthcoming in Margaret’s opinion.

The death of Saddi Sach and the events leading to that led to a turning point in Margaret’s like quest to liberate women on sexual health issues. She saw that a vacuum existed in the society that desperately needed to be acted upon as soon as possible. To her, this was her cause. She realized that if an action was not going to be taken urgently, more women are going to die as a result of unsafe abortions. She devoted herself to campaigning for the legalization of contraceptives and other methods as a means of family planning. Her commitment to women’s sexual health issues coupled up with other differences with her husband caused her marriage; she had to separate with her husband.

To take her campaign to the next level, Margaret Sanger launched a new magazine entitled the woman rebel. The magazine was in a form of an eight-page newsletter that advocated for the use of contraceptives as a form of birth control. Sanger was extremely courageous; she put consistent efforts despite the pressure from the laws outlawing publication and distribution of contraceptive information. Not that the laws were waved for her campaigns, when people asked that why was she was doing all what she was doing yet the law was clear on contraceptive information. The straight-speaking Sanger said that she has respect for the law. However, she was quick to add that women, just like any other person, did not have to die of common complications regarding their sexual health. She insisted that there must be a solution within the confines of the law to make sure that more women do not go to graves because of self-induced on unsafe abortions.

In her newsletter, Sanger continued to highlight on the need for women to use contraceptives as a birth control measure. She devised clever means of passing that important message to women, she coined slogans like “no gods no master” and every woman “should be a mistress of her own body. The newsletter drew a worldwide attention. The male dominated law enforcement agencies in the United States were becoming increasingly worried of Margaret’s campaign. In august1914, Margaret Sanger was officially indicted on accounts that she violated the United States postal laws regarding obscenity. This dealt an overwhelming blow to Margaret’s campaign to liberate women and birth control advocacy. How could she promote birth control behind bars? However, this could not deter her; she had to come up with alternatives to ensure the continuity of the crusade to promote birth control. Sanger jumped bail, forged her names as Bertha Watson, and escaped to England.

While in Europe, Sanger never gave up. She continued to educate herself and learning more about birth control. In 1915, Sanger went to Netherlands, and paid a visit to a Dutch birth control clinic. During her visit, she learned that contrary to her earlier beliefs, a diaphragm was actually a very effective method of birth control. Where she came from, that is in America, people had a different opinion over the use of a diaphragm as a method of birth control. Sanger figured out a way of making a diaphragm available to women in her home country or United States. She began smuggling the diaphragm in the United States in collaboration with her undercover colleagues in America. This move saw the diaphragm slowly gain popularity in the United States.

In 1916, Sanger went ahead to launch another publication. This time, in what was entitled as What Every Girl Should Know; Sanger talked on women issues like menstruation, and adolescent sexuality. The publication was widely speculated in the United States. By this time, people were enlightened. There was an increase of people across the United States wanting to read Margaret Sanger’s publications. She never gave up. She continued to enlighten women about birth control through her writings. She subsequently launched other publications; she authored a similar magazine that was known as What Every Mother Should Know in 1917. Under this magazine, she educated women on a number of issues concerning maternal health. She did not take long; she soon launched another magazine called The Birth Control Review and Birth Control News that was published monthly.

Her views on birth control attracted many people, and among them were the politicians aligned to the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party magazine began serializing her publications in their daily magazines and newspapers. This was like a springboard to Margaret Sanger’s long campaign to have women in the United States gain access to birth control methods. It now became official that the women of the United States must have a say regarding birth control. It was apparent that women were to use contraceptives to control birth.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger launched the first birth control and family clinic in the United States at a place called Brooklyn in New York. There was nothing of the sort in the United States, and the clinic was godsend to women of New York. However, this jubilation did not last for long. Security officers raided the clinic nine days after its inception and the person who launched it; Margaret Sanger was arrested and put in custody. She was accused, denied bail, and subsequently found guilty, as was the provided by law. She served a jail term of thirty days.

Soon the moment came when the law was changed to allow health professionals to prescribe contraceptives to women. Consequently, Margaret Sanger was realized, soon after being set free, the woman went ahead to found and chair the American birth control league (ABCL). This initiative was recognized globally. It received support from women across all parts of the world. Her influence was bolstered globally; Sanger toured this world promoting birth control and women sexual health in general. She contribution in women issues especially birth control was phenomenal. She teamed up with like-minded men and women to promote birth control.

In 1923, under the umbrella of American birth control league (ABCL), Margaret Sanger founded a clinical research bureau. The center was the initial one in the United States. Its mandate was to carry out research about maternal health and treat women with birth complications. She did this despite the fact that the law still was not clear about birth control. It was still illegal to promote contraceptives as a birth control measure. It was illegal to be in possession of a condom for whatever reasons. However, Sanger believed in her cause. She was prepared to sacrifice anything to make sure that women get access to birth control.

Sanger still wanted to do more for women she explored the cracks within the law and realized that doctors were exempted from the ban regarding dissemination of contraceptive information. She explored this newfound ground by teaming up with wealth and influential people to launch the legal birth control center. The clinic was staffed a hundred percent by female employees. This marked the start of liberalization of birth control measures in the America. Her clinic was the first legal birth control clinic in the United States. The center was later renamed Margaret Sanger Research Bureau. The center received massive grants from charitable organizations and well-wishers in the United States and throughout the world. Initially the center used to receive aid from undercover donors to avoid being victimized by the law.

In the same 1923, Margaret Sanger founded another organization called the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control. She was also the president of this organization herself. The purpose of the organization was to engineer necessary reforms that would lead to acceptance of contraceptives as a form of birth control in America. This organization was also as a vehicle to agitate and enlighten women on the need for family planning and the need for birth control. The organization accomplished much under its mandates. It was dissolved in 1937 when birth control was legalized in many states of the United States.

Sanger revealed that, from 1921 to 1926, she received an overwhelming response from over one million women in the United States alone requesting her to send them information regarding birth control. Sanger recalls that when she went around educating women family planning and birth control, she encountered very many things; she noted that women had no any basic knowledge regarding their sexuality. This complicated the situation further. Despite their enthusiasm, Sanger had no language to explain to them. In general, there was no communication. She had to seek expert help on how to teach people who were extremely ignorant.

She adds that she was really motivated by the women’s desire to know more regarding birth control. She devoted herself to liberating them. Today, the contribution that Sanger made in regard to birth control and family planning in general are abundantly everywhere. Women today are free to choose when to give birth or when not to. Sanger wanted women to have their say in what concerns the most. She did not understand why women were reduced to mere child bearers. She also wanted women to enjoy their sex without necessarily having to get unwanted pregnancies. In her service as a professional nurse, Margaret Sanger came hand in hand with the plight of women. She could see women who died while trying to procure an abortion, she saw women who could not feed and clothe their children. These experiences inspired her to launch a campaign that is today the plight of every woman in America.

CONCLUSION

Margaret Sanger was a true defender of women issues. She was arrested for over eight times, but this could not make her change her mind. She believed that women needed to have a say in matters that affect them most like child bearing. She grew up in a big family of eleven although her mother had eighteen pregnancies. Her childhood experience in the family thought her a great deal. She realized that when a couple has many children, the mother suffers most and not the father. This brings an imbalance in the normal family setting.

            It is the duty of the mother to feed, clothe, and shelter the children. The mother stays with the children most of the time. Never mind that  it is very humiliating for the mother to fail to provide adequately for the children. She fought tirelessly to make the life of an American woman comfortable. Toady woman are free to when to be pregnant, when to give birth and full access to birth control services. Today in America, fewer women die as a result of unsafe abortion. In fact, abortion is legalized in most of the states in America.

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