(b. Sept. 14, 1879, Corning, N.Y., U.S.—d. Sept. 6, 1966, Tucson, Ariz.)
argaret Sanger founded the birth-control movement in the United States and was an international leader
in the field. In fact, she is credited with originating the term “birth control.”
The sixth of 11 children, Margaret Louisa Higgins attended Claverack College and then took nurse’s training in New York at the White Plains Hospital and the Manhattan Eye and Ear Clinic. She was married twice, to William Sanger in 1900 and, after a divorce, to J. Noah H. Slee in 1922. After a brief teaching career she practiced obstetrical nursing on the Lower East Side of New York City, where she witnessed the relationships among poverty, uncontrolled fertility, high rates of infant and maternal mortality, and deaths from botched illegal abortions. These observations made Sanger a feminist who believed in every woman’s right to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and she devoted herself to removing the legal barriers to publicizing the facts about contraception.
In 1912 Sanger gave up nursing to devote herself to the cause of birth control. In 1914 she issued a short-lived magazine, The Woman Rebel, and distributed a pamphlet, Family Limitation, advocating her views. She was indicted for mailing materials advocating birth control, but the charges were dropped in 1916. Later that year she opened in Brooklyn the first birth-control clinic in the United States. She was arrested and charged with maintaining a “public nuisance,” and in 1917 she served 30 days in the