Our Lady of Soccorso
Margaret Sanger: The Mike Wallace Interview
May 3rd 2008 @ 9:53 am
The Mike Wallace Interview
Margaret Sanger   9/21/57

Guest: Margaret Sanger
9/21/57

WALLACE: Good evening, what you’re about to witness is, an unrehearsed, uncensored interview on the issue of Birth Control. It will be a free discussion of an adult topic, a topic that we feel merits public examination. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Philip Morris.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER: New Philip Morris, probably the best natural smoke you ever tasted, presents…(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER: The Mike Wallace Interview.

WALLACE: Tonight, we go after the story of the woman who violated convention and bucked powerful opposition to lead the Birth Control Movement in America. You see her behind me, she is Mrs. Margaret Sanger, who was thrown into jail eight different times for her efforts. If you’re curious to know why Mrs. Sanger has devoted her life to the Birth Control Movement, if you’d like to hear her answer to the charge that Birth Control is a sin, and if you want to get her views on politics, divorce and God, we’ll go after those stories in just a moment.

WALLACE: My guest’s opinions are not necessarily mine, the station’s or my sponsor’s Philip Morris Incorporated, but whether you agree or disagree, we feel that none should deny the right of these views to be broadcast. One might say that the basis of this program is fact and fiction. And using that yardstick I’d like to apply it to something I usually talk about at this time and that is this: Philip Morris Cigarettes.

WALLACE: Here’s why I smoke ‘em and enjoy them. Fact One:– Today’s Philip Morris is no ordinary blend, it’s a special blend, of domestic and imported tobaccos. Opinion? My taste may be different from yours, but on this I think we can agree. This cigarette tastes natural; I think you’ll like it. Fact Two:–Today’s Philip Morris is made of mild, lighter leaf tobaccos. Opinion. To me that accounts for the genuine mildness I get in every puff–it’s what I call a man’s kind of mildness, there’s no filter, no foolin’, no artificial mildness, because you see there’s nothing between you and the tobacco itself. And fact three is, of course, this box. Philip Morris was the first non-filtered cigarette to come in a crush-proofed box. Opinion? A cigarette that keeps better, smokes better, so get with Philip Morris yourself and check these facts, when you do, I think you’ll find it’s probably the best natural smoke you ever tasted. And now to our story.

WALLACE: When Mrs. Margaret Sanger opened the first Birth Control Clinic in the United States, back in 1916, birth control, was a dirty word. The police threw her into jail as they were to do seven more times during her crusade. A crusade that still faces the reasoning, but unalterable opposition of the Roman Catholic Church. That crusade kept Mrs. Sanger away from her children for long periods. It helped to break up her first marriage, and she suffered constant harrowing social abuse.

WALLACE: Mrs. Sanger, in view of all of that, let me ask you this first of all. Why did you do it? I realize that you had an intellectual conviction that birth control was a boon to mankind, but I’m sure that others have had that conviction too, and so what I would like to know is this: What events –what emotions in your life, made Margaret Sanger a crusader for birth control?

SANGER: Well, Mr. Wallace, it’s hard to say that any one thing has made one do this or that. I think that from the very beginning — I came from a large family, my mother died young, eleven children, that made an impression on me as a child. I was a trained nurse, went among the people.

SANGER: I saw, women, who asked to have some means whereby they wouldn’t have to have another pregnancy too early, after the last child, the last abortion, which many of them had. So there are numerous things that are, one after the other, that really made you feel that you had to do something.

WALLACE: There are some other possible reasons that suggest themselves on reading your biography by Lawrence Lader. Your mother, as you say, died prematurely after bearing eleven children. She was born a Catholic, was she not?

SANGER: She was born a Catholic, yes. In Ireland.

WALLACE: And your, your father was sort of a — village atheist, who clashed with church authorities and because of his atheism his earnings dwindled under community pressure –you and your brothers and sisters were known as quote children of the devil, end quote. Could it be then, that in part at least you were driven emotionally toward the birth control movement because of antagonism toward the church, because that was a way to fight the church.

SANGER: No I don’t think I had anything of the kind in mind– I was — I was what I would call a born humanitarian. I don’t like to see people suffer, I don’t like to see cruelty even to this day, and in nursing you see a great deal of cruelty and unnecessary suffering. At that time, there was no opposition as far as the church was concerned, any church. It was mainly the law, the Federal Law and State Laws, that one had to–to think of. The church was not in my mind at all.

WALLACE: Well in going after your motive then, and I will press you just a little bit more about that and then get to the specifics of this evening, but in your motive, in the movement, is it possible that the movement itself — the feeling of wanting to do anything that you felt was important, that perhaps that moved you a good deal.

WALLACE: Because, the fact remains that you led a movement against overwhelming pressures that stem back to centuries and in doing so according to your autobiography, you even left your first husband, and you wrote this to a friend, Mrs. Sanger. You said, "where is the man to give me what the movement gives, in joy and interest and freedom." Now, what was this joy, this freedom, that you craved?

SANGER: Well, I don’t remember that letter — (LAUGHS) — how it was written, but I think it was not question of a — a marriage at all, there’s a certain satisfaction in a –doing something that is going to alleviate the sufferings of women, in particular, and I was quite a feminist, at the time.

WALLACE: hm — hm — obviously..

SANGER: …and a — yes — and a — I naturally didn’t want to see women take all the suffering of child-bearing and of pregnancies. So it was a pleasure in a sense to think that you were striking at an archaic law, which it was..

SANGER: …it was put on the statute books by Anthony Comstock some years ago, and a no one had stood up against it and no one had–had tried to change the laws, and at that time not even a doctor had a right to use the United States Mail in common carriers for books, for learning, for anything that he had to do with this question. It was considered obscene. The whole question was considered obscene.

WALLACE: Mrs. Sanger, you have helped to spread the Birth Control Movement, not only here in the United States, but in Europe, and the Orient as well. Why? Why is Birth Control of such vital importance internationally? Is it just to save womens’ suffering is that the only reason in your mind?

SANGER: Well, not entirely, the population question is a great concern today and the a the rate at which the birth - births come-in to the a we’re saving them now - at one time the children died

-Camille
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Take away God, all respect for civil laws, all regard for even the most necessary institutions disappears; justice is scouted; the very liberty that belongs to the law of nature is trodden underfoot; and men go so far as to destroy the very structure of the family, which is the first and firmest foundation of the social structure.
- St. Pius X, Jucunda Sane, March 12, 1904