How Did the Debate Between Margaret Sanger and Mary Ware Dennett
Shape the Movement to Legalize Birth Control, 1915-1924?

Abstract

       The Comstock Law of 1873 essentially ended two centuries of free dissemination of information about how to prevent pregnancy, but it met with relatively little opposition until the second decade of the twentieth century, when reformers Mary Ware Dennett and Margaret Sanger took up the "birth control" cause. The two women adopted differing approaches to the birth control question, however. Although many activists who fought for the legalization of contraception urged Sanger and Dennett to unite for the good of the cause, the differences between the two women set the stage for a very competitive and at times confrontational relationship. The intense rivalry that developed between them is documented in the letters, organizational reports, and published articles included in this project, allowing examination of the conflict's impact on the successes and failures of the birth control movement.

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