Document 20: "The Feminist Viewpoint," New York Amsterdam News, 5 September 1932, p. 1, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
This column in a local newspaper discussed the Harlem Branch clinic. In noting the small audience at a recent speech by Dr. Harold Ellis (see Document 19), the anonymous author raised questions about the level of interest in Harlem in the topic of birth control. The author noted that the clinic had been opened as a convenience to the community and did not promote segregation. The author was careful to distinguish birth control from abortion and "childlessness" (an oblique reference to sterilization), suggesting that concerns that the clinic promoted race suicide may have contributed to the apparent low level of interest in birth control in the African American community. The author did not mention cost, which clinic reports suggested was a major factor in the low number of returning patients (see Document 27). The article was published at a time when Advisory Council members were beginning to take a more active role in publicity for the clinic, and the author may have been a member of the council. The author introduced a novel economic argument for birth control at the end of the column by noting that lower mortality rates in the African America community would lead to lower premium rates with insurance companies.
The Feminist Viewpoint
Harlem Not Interested
THERE WAS A TIME when people shuddered at the public mention of birth control. To think of it was a crime; to control birth was a sin. Then we changed to the other extreme. We crowded halls to hear lectures; we spent money for books and pamphlets dealing with birth control information. Is this interest waning now, or do we know all that we need know about birth control?
If attendance at a meeting represents genuine interest Harlem no longer relishes being lectured to on this vital subject. Dr. Harold L. Ellis, 152 West 129th Street, was the principal speaker at a meeting at St. James' Presbyterian Church last Wednesday night. He delivered an understandable and sensible talk on "Birth Control"—but his audience was surprisingly small.
The prevention of conception until such a time as it is expedient for us to bear children is birth control. It does not mean abortion or the disturbing of the little life once it has been started; nor does it mean never having children at all, but, according to Dr. Ellis, a regulating of this function according to our bodily health, economic condition and domestic state.
There is in Harlem a branch of the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau at 2352 Seventh avenue. The parent organization is the one founded and directed by Margaret Sanger. The supervising nurse in charge of the Harlem division states that two-thirds of the patients at her clinic are white women. Two-thirds of the married women who live in Harlem and who need this type of information and care are not white women.
This branch was not opened in Harlem as a segregation measure, but rather to suit the convenience of Harlem wives. The clinic hours are 9 to 5 daily, except Saturday, and on that day until noon; Friday evening, 7 to 8:30. When we have healthier and fewer babies, our mortality rate is going to decrease and we, as a race, will be offered better rates in the various insurance companies.—T. E. B.
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