The eugenics movement originally started in the late 1870s because of the idea that inferior classes, criminals, poverty, feeble-minds, and disease were hereditary and reproducing would create an unfit population in the United States. Forced sterilizations and the introduction of birth control began with the demand to wipe out populations that were constructed as inferior. The early history of the birth control pill was a form of eugenics, and was not only oppressive towards women of color but to women across the United Sates.
In the second decade of the twentieth century, the U.S. birth control movement became an important topic among Americans. It was at this time that Margaret Sanger, the eventual founder of Planned Parenthood, became involved in the radical movement for voluntary motherhood and the distribution of contraceptives (Hartmann). As a nurse she assisted poor women in giving birth, and saw the effect of having too many children on the welfare of these women. She also saw the suffering, pain, and death of many women who obtained unsafe, backdoor abortions to escape having more children (Shaw, Lee).
Forbidden by the Comstock Laws, which “made it a crime to sell or distribute materials that could be used for contraception or abortion” (“Comstock Law of 1873”); Sanger could not share information on how to prevent pregnancy. In her article, My Fight For Birth Control, Sanger tells a story of a woman wanting to know how to prevent pregnancy. The doctor’s solution was “I’ll tell you the only sure thing to do. Tell Jake to sleep on the roof!” (My Fight For Birth Control). Months later the same woman died from abortion. From that point on Margaret became adamant about how women should have the knowledge of contraception, an...
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...irth control pill when they were targeted to decrease the growth population because of their socioeconomic class and race. African American women were oppressed because of their forced sterilization history and from African American men who wanted them to rapidly reproduce. Planned Parenthoods were strategically placed in highly populated areas of African Americans, and subsequently their growth rate decreased dramatically. Women of all races, socioeconomic classes, and education levels experienced the oppression of the social stigma of being promiscuous once she received a prescription for the birth control pill. Finally, women also felt oppressed by feeling like she could never turn down sex just because she was on the pill. The birth control pill’s early history proves that it was not only oppressive towards minorities, but also to women across the United States.
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