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

Margaret Sanger - Mini Biography
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.

%shareLinks-quote="No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother." type="quote" author="Margaret Sanger" authordesc="" isquoteoftheday="false"%​

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.

%shareLinks-quote="Sanger thought the best way to change the law was to break the law." type="quote" author="Dr. Esther Katz" authordesc="Biography" isquoteoftheday="false"%

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.


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:

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Originally published