Essay on The Birth Control Movement

Essay on The Birth Control Movement

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The Progressive Era was a period of social and political reform beginning in the post Gilded Age 19th century and lasting through WWI. Industrial and urban growth of early 19th century America while representative of opportunity and future advancement simultaneously posed many difficulties for working class citizens. Prior concerns over the conditions of working class citizens were multiplied and magnified by overpopulated and impoverished urban communities. During this era many new Progressive agendas were introduced with the goal of reforming dated and unregulated policies, the most prominent of these, the birth control movement. The documents from chapter six of Constructing the American Past show that at its core, the birth control debate was a multifaceted social dispute with, religious political and racial influences.
Margaret Sanger’s monthly publication The Woman Rebel released its first issue in 1914, creating a nationwide dispute concerning the publication and distribution of birth control devices. However, Sanger’s initial goal went beyond simply legalizing the distribution of contraceptives; her aim was to create “radical social change, embracing the liberation of women and of the working class” (6, 1.120). In document one, the essay “Why the Woman Rebel?” Sanger makes a strong political statement on the social implications of legalizing birth control. Drawing heavily from the plight of the working class Sanger makes her case on the grounds that the legalization of birth control is the first step to the liberation of the disenfranchised working class at the hands of capitalism. The essay is a rebellious prose intended to inspire “revolt”, a call to arms for the case for birth control. Later in Sanger’s care...


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...roups, ethnicity and social classes: rich, poor, urban, rural would have been good criteria to use.
Subsequently, the provided documents on the birth control movement did show the push and pull factors of the complicated and multifaceted debate. Americas push towards industrial growth, and technology demanded that the subsequent progressive reforms were needed for a society ushering in a new era. At the same time, fear and reluctance to abandon tradition and religious custom acted as the pulling factor. The birth control debate was a complicated and heavily charged debate teemed in religious, social, political, and racial rhetoric. Historical documents help shed new light on the things taken for granted today, even the most seemingly innocuous things like birth control were fought for, so that men and women today could be in charge of their own destinies.


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