SEE ALSO: Faye Wattleton, Michelle Obama, Nancy Brinker, Sandra Day O’Connor, Geraldine Ferraro, Cecile Richards, Clara Hale, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Addams, Margaret Mead, Annie Glenn, Helen Keller, Betty Ford, Zora Neale Hurston, Ruth Handler
1879 – 1966
The Mother of Birth Control
Margaret Sanger worked as a nurse in some of New York City’s Lower East Side. While working with women from one of the poorest neighborhoods she saw women worn out from unwanted pregnancies, or worse, dying as a result of illegal abortions. Her own mother’s health was compromised because of her eleven siblings. She also observed that educated women were able to get contraceptives and vowed to make birth control, a term which she’s credited with inventing, available to all women. In 1916, she opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and was sent to the workhouse for “creating a public nuisance.” The clinic served more than 100 women on its first day. Through her work and her activism she helped change the law giving doctors the right to give advice about birth control and later devices to patients. Sanger went on to found the American Birth Control League, the forerunner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In 2000, TIME magazine named Margaret Sanger one of the 100 most important people of the century.
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