The Morality of Birth Control

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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American Educator, birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse Margaret Sanger has written numerous pieces about women empowering. One of her most popular speeches, “The Morality of Birth Control,” is intended for women and America as a nation. It is spoken for women that feel like they have no way out of the risks of sex, including pregnancy. It can also be intended for men, in order to be aware of what women go through and that they will take risks to please their significant other.

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While Sanger address mostly women problems within the community, she keeps the message of her speech powerful and strong while also trying to drawn in men to her speech too. Sanger had tried to control the audience with her embowering tones, and needed to make sure that her message was placed. Birth control was created for many reasons, but never had been used when first invented because of the risks that it had come with, but Margaret Sanger saw the good in it, and needed to show both men and women that it is highly necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancies and illnesses. Sanger was a birth control activist, but this speech was more about questioning birth control in both men and women, including condoms and the birth control pill. In 1921, women were considered very far from equal to men, and were treated and acted more as servants. “The Morality of Birth Control” is an important and historical piece in which Margaret Sanger uses a powerful tone, realistic fear, and a variety of imagery to inform her audience about what women must go through to prevent the risks of sexual intercourse.

Sanger introduces her idea by starting her speech with bringing out emotions in her audience, using techniques such as guilt, power, and thought. Guilt was immediately put into the audiences mind by her opening sentence in this speech, which was “The meeting tonight is a postponement of one which was to have taken place at the Town Hall last Sunday evening.” The speech was already giving off a massive impact by proving that people do not think much about this issue enough to postpone the meeting. When Sanger says, “Society is divided into three groups,” she is starting the most hateful and spiteful section of her speech. As shown in this piece of the speech, guilt is not the only method of bringing out emotion that Sanger used to drawn in her crowd. Another method that was especially interesting was hope and praise towards both men and women. Usually these factors are not usually used to draw in a crowd, but Sangers techniques were perfected and the crowd was growing. Sanger also was studying women that correctly taken birth control, and used them as examples on how and why birth control is useful and needed in this community. While reading over her speech, it can be seen that Sanger is trying to anger the crowd, which can be seen when she says “the irresponsible and reckless ones,” and “If we cannot trust women with the knowledge of her own body, then I claim that two thousand years of Christian teaching has proved to be a failure.” She is intending on influencing the women in the crowd and teaching them to become more aware that the risks of sexual assault are no joke and need to be handled in a serious manner. Her overall empowering tone in this speech have affected women around the world even to this day.

The fear in this speech was Sanger’s first intention, she wanted to inform her audience that birth control is a factor that is greatly needed in a woman’s everyday life to lower the amount of risks that the women had at that time while being sexually active. During the event of the three day conference, Sanger presented her argument to the audience calling out with hope and understanding the importance of slowing down population growth. he objective was to escape ignorance and indifference to creation of civilization starting on the level of creating a family. “The selfish gratification of temporary desire at the expense of suffering to lives that will come may seem very beautiful to some, but it is not our conception of civilization, or is it our concept of morality”. She felt that if the women were to understand how dangerous sexual intercourse could be, then maybe they would pay more attention and agree with her and further her argument. “It is right to control the size of the family for by this control and adjustment we can raise the level and the standards of the human race. While Nature’s way of reducing her numbers is controlled by disease, famine and war, primitive man has achieved the same results by infanticide, exposure of infants, the abandonment of children, and by abortion.” The quote presented was said towards the end of the speech, and was said to point out the major problem in society during the 1920’s. The idea of these topics were used to scare the women and men in the audience, by showing them the truth, and Sanger was hoping she could get agreement in this topic. She continued on, earning applause and measurement.

Sanger uses imagery throughout her speech in order to put a clear picture into societies mind about what would happen if they did not further the idea of birth control. “Groups are diseased, feeble-minded” and “We desire to stop at its source the disease, poverty and insanity which exist today.” She is convinced that birth control will end many problems that she had mentioned, including insanity and poverty. The argument Sanger makes, asserting that birth control is in fact moral because it prevents women from raising children that they are not apt or prepared to raise. Though this argument could lean towards a plea of emotional tales of poverty-stricken women attempting to raise children in unsuitable conditions, Sanger’s argument is consisting of emotion and rather very straight forward and powerful which was something that dragged the people’s attention to her and made sure that they were always listening and knew that they were not alone. Margaret Sanger had believed that unwanted pregnancies only end in poor health, and it also prevented economic freedom for women that are in the working class. Poverty has been a major problem and the stress of trying to make sure your children are successful strain the health of the parents.

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The Morality of Birth Control. (2020, Jan 18). Retrieved from