Today in History: Margaret Sanger opens first birth control clinic in U.S.

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Margaret Sanger - Mini Biography


Ninety-nine years ago today, on October 16, 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first family planning clinic in the United States. Sanger is credited with sparking the birth control movement, and fought relentlessly to give women control of their own bodies.



At this time, birth control was not only virtually unheard of, it was illegal. Sanger was living through the time of the Comstalk Law, which included a ban on contraceptives.



Sanger produced and distributed "The Woman Rebel," a publication which promoted birth control and women's rights. In the eyes of the law, this was a piece of "obscene" material, and led to her indictment in 1914. Instead of being sent to jail, Sanger fled to England for a year and waited until the charges were dropped.

After returning to the states, Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. on October 16, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately, the clinic only lasted about three days before being shut down by police. Sanger and her colleagues were arrested and spent 30 days in jail.

MARGARET SANGER
Following her freedom, Sanger continued relentlessly to advocate for women's rights and birth control. Eventually, Sanger's "American Birth Control League," became what we know today as Planned Parenthood.

Not everyone supports Sanger's contributions to society. See photos below of Planned Parenthood protests:

21 PHOTOS
Planned Parenthood Protests
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Today in History: Margaret Sanger opens first birth control clinic in U.S.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 photo, people participate in a rally at Utah Capitol Rotunda, in Salt Lake City, organized in support of Gov. Gary Herbert's recent decision to remove the state from federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Herbert says his move to block Utah from disbursing federal money to Planned Parenthood won't threaten women's health. Herbert last week ordered the Utah Department of Health to stop passing along about $223,000 in federal money to the Utah arm of the organization for programs like STD testing, sex education and screening for victims of sexual assault. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
This Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 photo shows people looking on during a rally at Utah Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City, organized in support of Gov. Gary Herbert's recent decision to remove the state from federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Utah’s decision to stop disbursing federal money to Planned Parenthood won’t threaten women’s access to health care, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Girl holds up hand-lettered sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Protester with Baby Doe sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Handmade sign held aloft with litany of accusations against Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson attends a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
FILE- In this July 28, 2015 file photo, Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses. Two state health researchers in Texas are under fire for a co-authoring a study suggesting what Republican leaders have long disputed - that cuts to Planned Parenthood are hurting access to womenâs health care. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
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