While reliable birth control was welcomed by some

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Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity
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Chapter 13 / Exercise 1
Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity
Carroll
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"While reliable birth control was welcomed by some, others saw it as throwing a tremendous wrench into the social structure." Sanger opened the first American birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on October 16, 1916. The clinic was staffed by Sanger, her sister Ethyl Byrne, a registered nurse, and two other women; no doctors would involve themselves in her enterprise. The clinic was in direct violation of laws prohibiting the distribution of contraception by anyone outside the medical profession and for any purpose other than disease prevention. In the clinic's ten days of operation, several hundred women received counseling, information on how to prevent pregnancy, and condoms and pessaries (as diaphragms were called). Women came from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and stood in lines that wound around the block. On October 26, the vice squad raided the clinic, arresting Sanger and the women working with her. The women were tried and sentenced to thirty days in prison. Following the example of the British Suffragists, Byrne went on a hunger strike. Her brutal force-feeding made front-page headlines even during the escalating hostilities of World War I. From 1916 onward, the Catholic Church made a concerted effort to thwart Sanger's campaign. Catholic groups shut down Sanger's speeches, got her detained for handing out copies of Family Limitation, and in 1919 American bishops wrote a joint pastoral letter explicitly prohibiting contraception. In Washington, D.C., the Catholic Church set up an office to organize church members and lobby politicians. Some of the opposition backfired. Sanger planned a meeting in the New York City Town Hall in November 1921 to address the question "Birth Control: Is It Moral?" Before the meeting began, New York City policemen closed down the building and arrested Sanger. The shutdown, which had been orchestrated by Archbishop Patrick Hayes, outraged free speech activists, the media, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The New Republic wrote that the incident was "socially insane .... The last resort of authoritarianism." The commotion over the Town Hall meeting provided optimal advertising for Sanger. When the rescheduled meeting finally took place, three thousand people had to be turned away at the door because of limited space. Sanger frequently reinvented her image, aligning herself with socialists, sex theorists, lobbyists, eugenicists, international birth control advocates, feminists, and suffragists, harnessing the momentum of these movements to drive her fight for contraception
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Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity
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Chapter 13 / Exercise 1
Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity
Carroll
Expert Verified
forward. Although the women's movement seemed a natural partner for Sanger's cause, her approach differed radically from that of her feminist and suffragist contemporaries. The women's movement maintained that sex needed to be subjugated and that equality was dependent upon the diminishing of the importance of sex, so that women could escape the role of "sex slave." Birth control was anathema even to conflicting factions within the movement some thinkers denounced marriage and sex entirely, in favor of pursuing a career; others regarded motherhood as the highest vocation and concluded that birth control insulted their femininity.

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