Medicine: Birth Control Hearing

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Margaret Sanger last week had a second opportunity to beg Congress to lift Federal inhibitions against Birth Control. Senator Frederick Huntington Gillett, 79, Massachusetts, was her friend at court .his time. The other time (1924) her friend was another aged Senator, the late Albert Baird Cummins of Iowa, then 75. Senator Cummins had tried ineffectually to pass a law making contraceptive information and devices available to all the people, a liberty which Mrs. Sanger, a trained nurse, did not altogether approve. Senator Gillett is fostering a law to make such information and devices available only to doctors. If Congress were, through some reversal of national mores, to pass any such law it would have no practical effect in those States which forbid Birth Controlling within their dominions.

Nonetheless Senator Gillett, as chairman of a subcommittee of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, listened to Mrs. Sanger and a squad of supporters. Then he listened to her opponents. Assisting him was Senator Sam Gilbert Bratton, 42, of New Mexico. Senator William Edgar Borah. 65. of Idaho, member of the subcommittee, stayed away. Senators' wives crowded the hearing room.

Vigorous were the arguments for and against Birth Control.

Pro."We want parenthood to be regarded as something beyond and above a casual accident or a punishment as a result of shiftlessness and recklessness." —Mrs. Sanger.

"There is a huge bootleg trade in contraceptives. Accurate and competent advice in regard to Birth Control would save the lives of thousands of women, and a doctor who has this information and does not give it. incurs a terrible responsibility."—John Whitridge Williams, Johns Hopkins obstetrician.

"The bird of war is not the eagle, but the stork."—The Rev. Charles Francis Potter, Manhattan.

"We must control population. . . . We are forced to a choice. Nature's remedies are pestilence, war, disease and famine. Personally I prefer to substitute the more human method to the cruel natural process." —Henry Pratt Fairchild, New York University sociologist.

The Junior League of New York is "overwhelmingly in favor" of the Gillett Bill. "Our work in settlements and hospitals has shown us that control of the birth rate by this means is absolutely necessary." —Mrs. Douglas M. Moffatt, chairman of the local League's legislative committee.

Contra. Opponents to Birth Control were just as scrappy as Mrs. Sangers battlers: most of them were Roman Catholics, whose Pope has sternly denounced Birth Control (TIME, Jan. 19).

"The earth is capable of supporting 7,000,000,000 people and it now contains about 1,750,000,000."

—Representative John W. McCormack of Massachusetts.

"The more sacrifice [marriage] entails, the greater the amount of happiness results."

—Representative Mary Teresa Norton of New Jersey. (Her only son died.) "The gross obscenity of a pamphlet written by a woman in Brooklyn*is so shocking that if I were not controlled by Christian sentiment, I would feel like shooting a man who would hand such a pamphlet to one of my four daughters. [Doctors] have been able to give such advice as was necessary to their patients and would continue to do so."

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