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Margaret Sanger

所属教程:People in America 更新:12-14
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VOICE ONE:

I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Sarah Long with the VOA Special English Program, Peoplein America. Today, we tell about one of the leaders of the birthcontrol movement, Margaret Sanger.

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VOICE ONE:

Many women today have the freedom to decide when they will havechildren, if they want them. Until about fifty years ago, womenspent most of their adult lives having children, year after year.This changed because of efforts by activists like Margaret Sanger.She believed that a safe and sure method of preventing pregnancy wasa necessary condition for women's freedom. She also believed birthcontrol was necessary for human progress.

Margaret Sanger was considered a rebel in the earlyNineteen-Hundreds.

VOICE TWO:

The woman who changed other women's lives was born inEighteen-Eighty-Three in the eastern state of New York. Her parentswere Michael and Anne Higgins.

Margaret wrote several books about her life. She wrote that herfather taught her to question everything. She said he taught her tobe an independent thinker.

Margaret said that watching her mother suffer from having toomany children made her feel strongly about birth control. Her motherdied at forty-eight years of age after eighteen pregnancies. She wasalways tired and sick. Margaret had to care for her mother and herten surviving brothers and sisters. This experience led her tobecome a nurse.

Margaret Higgins worked in the poor areas of New York City. Mostpeople there had recently arrived in the United States from Europe.Margaret saw the suffering of hundreds of women who tried to endtheir pregnancies in illegal and harmful ways. She realized thatthis was not just a health problem. These women suffered because oftheir low position in society.

Margaret saw that not having control over one's body led toproblems that were passed on from mother to daughter and through thefamily for years. She said she became tired of cures that did notsolve the real problem. Instead, she wanted to change the whole lifeof a mother.

VOICE ONE:

In Nineteen-Oh-Two, Margaret married William Sanger. They hadthree children. Margaret compared her own middle-class life to thatof the poor people she worked among. This increased her desire todeal with economic and social issues. At this time, Margaret Sangerbecame involved in the liberal political culture of an area of NewYork City known as Greenwich Village. Sanger became a labor unionorganizer. She learned methods of protest and propaganda, which sheused in her birth control activism.

Sanger traveled to Paris, France, in Nineteen-Thirteen, toresearch European methods of birth control. She also met withmembers of Socialist political groups who influenced her birthcontrol policies. She returned to the United States prepared tochange women's lives.

VOICE TWO:

At first, Margaret Sanger sought the support of leaders of thewomen's movement, members of the Socialist party, and the medicalprofession. But, she wrote that they told her to wait until womenwere permitted to vote. She decided to continue working alone.

One of Margaret Sanger's first important political acts was topublish a monthly newspaper called The Woman Rebel. She designed it.She wrote for it. And she paid for it. The newspaper called forwomen to reject the traditional woman's position. The first copy waspublished in March, Nineteen-Fourteen. The Woman Rebel was an angrypaper that discussed disputed and sometimes illegal subjects. Theseincluded labor problems, marriage, the sex business, and revolution.

Sanger had an immediate goal. She wanted to change laws thatprevented birth control education and sending birth control devicesthrough the mail.

VOICE ONE:

The Woman Rebel became well-known in New York and elsewhere. Lawsat that time banned the mailing of materials considered morally bad.This included any form of birth control information. The law wasknown as the Comstock Act. Officials ordered Sanger to stop sendingout her newspaper.

Sanger instead wrote another birth control document called FamilyLimitation. The document included detailed descriptions of birthcontrol methods. In August, Nineteen-Fourteen, Margaret Sanger wascharged with violating the Comstock Act.

Margaret faced a prison sentence of as many as forty-five yearsif found guilty. She fled to Europe to escape the trial. She askedfriends to release thousands of copies of Family Limitation. Thedocument quickly spread among women across the United States. Itstarted a public debate about birth control. The charges againstSanger also increased public interest in her and in women's issues.

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Once again, Margaret Sanger used her time in Europe to researchbirth control methods. After about a year, she decided to return tothe United States to face trial. She wanted to use the trial tospeak out about the need for reproductive freedom for women.

While Sanger was preparing for her trial, her five-year-olddaughter, Peggy, died of pneumonia. The death made Sanger feel veryweak and guilty. However, the death greatly increased public supportfor Sanger and the issue of birth control. The many reports in themedia caused the United States government to dismiss charges againsther.

VOICE ONE:

Margaret Sanger continued to oppose the Comstock Act by openingthe first birth control center in the United States. It opened inBrownsville, New York in Nineteen-Sixteen. Sanger's sister, EthelByrne, and a language expert helped her. One-hundred women came tothe birth control center on the first day. After about a week,police arrested the three women, but later released them. Sangerimmediately re-opened the health center, and was arrested again. Thewomen were tried the next year. Sanger was sentenced to thirty daysin jail.

With some support from women's groups, Sanger started a newmagazine, the Birth Control Review. In Nineteen-Twenty-One, sheorganized the first American birth control conference. Theconference led to the creation of the American Birth Control League.It was established to provide education, legal reform and researchfor better birth control. The group opened a birth control center inthe United States in Nineteen-Twenty-Three. Many centers that openedlater across the country copied this one.

Sanger was president of the American Birth Control League untilNineteen-Twenty-Eight. In the Nineteen-Thirties she helped win ajudicial decision that permitted American doctors to give outinformation about birth control.

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Historians say Margaret Sanger changed her methods of politicalaction during and after the Nineteen-Twenties. She stopped usingdirect opposition and illegal acts. She even sought support from herformer opponents.

Later, Sanger joined supporters of eugenics. This is the study ofhuman improvement by genetic control. Extremists among that groupbelieve that disabled, weak or "undesirable" human beings should notbe born. Historians say Sanger supported eugenicists only as a wayto gain her birth control goals. She later said she was wrong insupporting eugenics. But she still is criticized for thesestatements.

VOICE ONE:

Even though Margaret Sanger changed her methods, she continuedher efforts for birth control. In the Nineteen-Forty-Two, she helpedform the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. It became a majornational health organization after World War Two.

Margaret Sanger moved into areas of international activism. Herefforts led to the creation of the International Planned ParenthoodFederation. It was formed in Nineteen-Fifty-Two after aninternational conference in Bombay, India. Sanger was one of itsfirst presidents.

The organization was aimed at increasing the acceptance of familyplanning around the world. Almost every country in the world is nowa member of the international group.

VOICE TWO:

Margaret Sanger lived to see the end of the Comstock Act and theinvention of birth control medicine. She died in Nineteen-Sixty-Sixin Tucson, Arizona. She was an important part of what has beencalled one of the most life-changing political movements of thetwentieth century.

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VOICE ONE:

This Special English program was written by Doreen Baingana andproduced by Caty Weaver. I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Sarah Long. Join us again next week for another PEOPLE INAMERICA program on the Voice of America.

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