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Margaret Sanger

Naughty Innovators | Naughty Guide

Margaret Sanger

She was a nurse who grew tired of seeing poor women die from illegal abortions and not have access to information about birth control, which happened to be illegal.

Recognizing that a woman could not be fully equal in society unless she was able to control her fertility, Sanger coined the term "Birth Control" and founded the American Birth Control League which became Planned Parenthood.

Sanger also advocated the idea that women could be healthier if they were able to plan and space their pregnancies.

She was arrested several times for publishing a newsletter called "The Woman Rebel" which contained information about birth control.

Under the Comstock Laws, such information was deemed obscene.

Sanger felt discussion of birth control was a free speech issue as well as a feminist issue.

Naughty Innovators | Naughty Guide

She opened the nation's first birth control clinic in Brooklyn where pictures show women lined up around the block to get in and receive information and contraception.

Sanger fled to England to escape prosecution and while there she joined forces with Havelock Ellis and researched methods of birth control.

Upon returning to the United States she smuggled diaphragms into the country by sewing them into the linings of her skirts.

Margaret Sanger's lifetime of advocacy and activism on behalf of women and sexual health led to the legalization of contraception in the United States with the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut and set the foundation for the legalization of abortion with Roe v. Wade.

Her ability to recognize that women must control their own bodies and be able to be free sexually without concern for unwanted pregnancy set in motion more open discussion of sexuality.

Margaret Sanger is a true heroine and one of the great sexual thinkers of the 20th century.

Learn more about Margaret Sanger with these books:

• Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion

• Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America

• The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger

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