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Birth Control

APUSH Year-End Project

Suzanne Warshell

on 14 April 2014

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Transcript of Birth Control

Birth Control
An abridged history
By: Isabel Steinhaus and Suzanne Warshell
AP US History
1873 - The Comstock Laws
Comstock's Motivation
devout Christian
appalled by city streets
March 3, 1873 - Comstock Act passed by Congress
1916 - First changes to Comstock Act due to "Sanger's Crusade"

"Be it enacted… That whoever…shall sell…or shall offer to sell, or to lend, or to give away, or in any manner to exhibit, or shall otherwise publish…
or shall have in his possession…an obscene book
, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, circular, print, picture, drawing or other representation, figure, or image on or of paper or other material, or any cast instrument, or other article of an immoral nature, or any drug or medicine,
or any article whatever, for the prevention of conception
… On conviction thereof in any court of the United States…he shall be
at hard labor in the penitentiary for not less than six months nor more than five years for each offense, or
not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two thousand dollars, with costs of court."
Full Text:
Margaret Sanger's Crusade - The Early Years

1910s - Sanger actively challenged federal and state Comstock Laws
1914 - Sanger coins the term "birth control" and starts spreading info about contraception
1915 - Sanger indicted for sending diaphragms through the mail
1916 - Opens the first birth control clinic in the country

1920s - Movement goes national
1921 - Sanger organizes the
First American Birth Control Conference
and establishes the
American Birth Control League
Follow-up meeting and surrounding scandal (Sanger forced off stage, etc.)
Tremendous publicity for Sanger/ABCL, support from the wealthy
Spurred militant Catholic Conspiracy to block birth control
Pre-Pill Methods of Birth Control
During the Common Era (B.C.)
Abstinence, balms and salves, natural ointments
"Womb veils" (archaic version of condoms)

Using a lemon rind as a cervical cap

Breakthrough in the nineteenth century
Charles Goodyear revolutionizes rubber industry with "vulcanized rubber"
Rubber condoms
Diaphragms - effective, but not popular (very uncomfortable for women, embarrassing/expensive to purchase at the time)
The Road to the Birth Control Pill - 1940s
1940s - Scientists recognize the connection between the female menstrual cycle and hormones
Widespread scientific interest in finding progesterone and estrogen in hopes of regulating the cycle
Progesterone and estrogen difficult to come by in nature, extraction is expensive

The development of synthetic hormones
1943 - Chemist Russell Marker discovered a way to extract progesterone from plant material (the wild Mexican yam)
Subsequently developed synthetic estrogen
Had to be administered by a very painful injection at a high dose
The Development and Testing of the Birth Control Pill - 1950s
Early 1950s - chemists Frank Colton and Carl Djerassi created oral forms of progesterone
neither intended the drugs' use as contraception

Gregory Pincus recognized the drugs' potential as a method of birth control
Pincus tried to convince pharmaceutical company G. D. Searle to manufacture pill, Searle refuses
no companies wanted to deal with birth control because of...
Catholic resistance
No market
Accidental development of pill by Colton (he created it for other purposes)

1957 - Drug released for trial --> women use as a contraceptive as opposed to medicine
Searle catches on and pressures the speed of the trials

FDA approves Enovoid with limitations on May 11, 1960
Controversy Regarding the Pill
Lambeth Conference (1930) - Protestant Church relaxes restrictions on birth control
[Resolution (68) of 1920]
we have a refusal to go into detail about abnormal 'hard cases,' but a quite general condemnation of
contraceptive methods.
recent Conference
, on the contrary, has given a
restricted approval
of them."

Catholic Church maintains
strong opposition
1930: Official ban of all "artificial" means of birth control
Against natural law
Against the Bible
Against apostolic tradition

John Rock petitions Catholic Church to accept the Pill as an extension of the body's natural processes

Moving towards acceptance until 1968 - Pope Paul VI issues encyclical
Humanae Vitae

"Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the
direct interruption of the generative process
already begun and, above all, all
direct abortion
, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be
absolutely excluded as lawful means
of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is
direct sterilization
, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)
Similarly excluded
is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically
intended to prevent procreation
—whether as an end or as a means. (16)"
The Catholic Church
Was Margaret Sanger a Eugenicist?
Controversy Regarding the Pill
Government Reaction
Scholarly Source: "
The Politics of Birth Control
" by Jeannie I. Rosoff

"In fact, by 1968, it had been more or less agreed upon that family planning and population were appropriate matters for government concern and action. The ground had been prepared by repeated statements from President John F. Kennedy and, particularly, from President Lyndon B. Johnson, who spoke of the need to address these issues no less than 40 times during his tenure, including at least twice in his State of the Union addresses. During his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower had declared that action on birth control and population matters were not a "proper function of Government;"4 he later reversed his position and served with former President Harry S. Truman, as an honorary cochairman of Planned Parenthood."
"If only from the motive of self-protection the well-born and the well-bred can no longer shirk responsibility concerning "the behavior and the condition of the unfortunates."


Margaret Sanger,
Women and Birth Control
Scholarly Sources
Primary Source
Primary Sources
"Margaret Sanger has not advocated larger families for the rich. Rather, she has emphasized the necessity of leaving the decision as to the number of children and the time of their arrival to the mother, whether she be rich or poor." - Margaret Sanger, acting as editor of
Birth Control Review
"We maintain that a woman possessing an adequate knowledge of her reproductive functions is the best judge of time and conditions under which her child should be brought into the world. We maintain that it is her right, regardless of all other considerations, to determine whether she shall bear children or not, and how many children she shall bear if she chooses to become a mother." - Margaret Sanger,
Birth Control Review
Scholarly Source
"She came from one of the classes that Protestant eugenicists looked down upon and discriminated against-Irish Catholics. She was also poor and female. She had married a Jew. She had a criminal record from her days as a labor organizer. She had inherited diseases. No eugenicist would call her "fit." She had three children." - Alexander Sanger, "
Eugenics, Race, and Margaret Sanger Revisited: Reproductive Freedom for All?
"Sanger did believe that people with severe mental retardation (at the time referred to as feebleminded) should not bear children. She defined borderline cases as those with a mental age of around eight." She believed people with severe retardation were a social burden and a danger and that they lowered the overall intelligence of the human race by continuing to reproduce." - Charles Valenza,
Was Margaret Sanger a Racist?
"She spoke in the language of medicine to catch the ear of doctors, and she rode the eugenics wave in the 1920s to the point where she supported the sterilization of the mentally retarded, the insane, and epileptics... Sanger did not embrace their racist logic in private ... still ... Sanger failed to publicly challenge their positions." - Abby Scher,

International Labor and Working-Class History
Birth Control and Black Genocide
"Birth Control and the Black Community in the 1960s: Genocide or Power Politics?" by Simone M. Caron

"Although the black community had generally supported birth control since the 1930s, some members rejected it as a white plot to decimate the black race. This controversy continued in a relatively low-key manner through the 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s, however, fears of genocide heightened as publicly-funded clinics appeared in areas dominated by "poor and prolific black families."
Scholarly Source:
Primary Source:
Legality of the Pill
Effects of the Pill on Society
Birth Rates
1970 - The Senate Holds Hearings on the Pill
BC Pill initially well-received, until release of "The Doctor's Case Against the Pill"
Senator Nelson investigates, several male experts testify on the hazards of the Pill
Members of D.C. Women's Liberation verbally object --> national news
1965 - Griswold v. Connecticut
1879 Connecticut law criminalized the the use of contraceptives
Estelle Griswold was accused of providing illegal contraception, appealed to Supreme Court that law was unconstitutional
Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy, and that married couples could therefore use birth control
The Foundation of Planned Parenthood
1930: American Birth Control League
1941: ABCL operating 22 centers with 49,000 clients
1942: ABCL joins Planned Parenthood Federation of America
1952: International Planned Parenthood Foundation
Sanger served as president until 80 years old
Birth Control and The Women's Liberation Movement
Women's liberation movement gained support alongside anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s
Women began rebelling against the happy homemaker image of the 1950s
Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped integrate women into professional fields
Pill also played significant role - could postpone having children or space births to pursue a career or degree
Form of emancipation to allow women to control their own fertility
Research Question
How did the development of birth control and its surrounding controversies shape the role of women in American society?
Research Thesis
By giving women increased bodily autonomy and an opportunity to voice their opinions, the birth control movement and the pill allowed women to have greater control over their lives and positions in society.
"The Pill"
by Loretta Lynn

You wined me and denied me when I was your girl
Told me if I'd be your wife you'd show me the world
But all I've seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill
I'm tearin' down your brooder house because now I've got the pill

All these years I've stayed at home while you had all your fun
And every year that's gone by another baby's come
There's gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill
You've set this chicken your last time cause now I've got the pill

This old maternity dress I've got is going in the garbage
The clothes I'm wearing from now on won't take up so much yardage
Miniskirts hot pants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I'm making up for all those years since I've got the pill

I'm tired of all your crowing how you and your hens play
While holding a couple in my arms another's on the way
This chicken's done for up her nest and ready to make a deal
And you can't afford to turn it down cause you know I've got the pill

This incubator is overused because you've kept it filled
The feeling good time's easy now since I've got the pill
It's gettin' dark it's roostin' time tonight's too good to be real
Oh daddy don't you worry now cause momma's got the pill
Oh daddy don't you worry now cause momma's got the pill
Tips & Advice: End-of-Year Project and the AP Test
AP Test:
End-of-Year Project:
Picking a topic: find a minute topic covered in class that you are genuinely interested in
Begin by creating a general timeline of events and deciding which partner will cover which events; then go back and add details
Keep it short BUT in depth. If necessary, abbreviate quotes/film clips but don't cut relevant information.
Don't rely on a script!
GetAFive.com - annotating printed slides
flashcards - a way to test yourself (active studying)
History Sage - reviewing details
Group study - discussing sequences of events really helps!
Prep books - passive reading vs. succinct summaries
Test Day - use the essay planning time to PLAN, not write!
Full transcript