The Evasion Of Motherhood

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The ability for one to control when he or she will have children is something that most people take for granted in contemporary America. The advancement of the understanding of reproductive biology has led to remarkable technological innovations that have allowed men and women to prevent pregnancy through a variety of methods such as physical barriers, spermicides, and hormonal pills. However, the manner in which society has viewed these various forms of birth control has greatly evolved in the past two centuries. For much of the nineteenth century the majority of America adopted the conservative Christian doctrine that people should not meddle with their ability to have children. However, this changed remarkably throughout the twentieth century.…show more content…
Government policy in the United States opposed contraception because many believed it would diminish a nation’s resources. After the American Revolution people began to place special value on the development of children, so that they could learn how to assume the responsibilities necessary to maintain the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This responsibility primarily fell upon women to educate their children and to develop them into citizens that could contribute to the newly formed United States of America. This belief is known as Republican Motherhood and its influence can be seen throughout the first century of American history. It was believed that in order for a nation to maintain its strength it must continue to increase its population, and, therefore, every person had to perform their duty of creating and developing the next generation. If any person attempted to evade these duties by using contraception they were seen as evading their civic duties. This belief was dominant throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, but shifted dramatically in the late nineteenth century as a result of the rise in urbanization and immigration. Due to a large increase in population in large urban areas such as New York City many families were becoming overcrowded and were often having children that they…show more content…
Sanger was educated as a nurse at Claverack College in New York. In 1912 she began her early career working as a nurse for maternity cases on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There she witnessed great poverty which seemed to stem from the inability of these people to control when they have children. She also saw a number of women utilizing self-induced abortions, which were extremely dangerous and resulted in many deaths. She quit her work as a nurse and dedicated herself to progressing birth control rights in America. This led her to starting a magazine called Woman Rebel which sought to logically argue why birth control should be practiced more extensively in America. The magazine was largely banned. However, she continued to push for reform. In 1921 she established the American Birth Control League, which would later become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1946. This organization at the time had 250 centers in more 150 cities. Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher, president of the Planned Parenthood Worldwide Association, stated, “it was she [Margaret Sanger] who convinced America and the world that control of conception is a basic human right and like other human rights must be equally available to all.” Sanger played a major role in shifting the perspective of Americans on birth control in the early twentieth century. Her beliefs are still being
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