The Persecution of Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger, publisher and editor of that brave little paper, The Woman Rebel, has been indicted by the Federal government on several charges of using the mails to circulate literature of an obscene, lewd and lascivious character.

The charges are based on the announcement by the editor of her intention to publish scientific information for the enlightenment of her readers in the matters of sex. Other indictments were also returned on the contents of articles in previous issues of The Woman Rebel, dealing with birth control, the need of preventative means and similar subjects of vital interest to working women and as well as to workingmen.

I know that those who still believe in the spook of enlightened and free government will not agree with me when I say that the government is logical in trying to suppress such information. Government is both the reflex and the handmaid of capital. Neither government nor capital can exist without a plentiful supply of hands, of workers to be exploited in factory or army. Now, if the workers should take it into their own hands consciously to reduce the size of their families, to check their birth rate, it would mean that they would before long lose control of the labor market. The supply of hands would then depend on the workers themselves, instead of on the employers, as is now the case. That would be giving labor a dangerous weapon that would threaten to a great extent the profits of capital.

Capitalism cannot be expected calmly to face such a possibility. Its ally and servant, government, comes to the rescue: all information that might tend to produce such a dire calamity must be withheld from the workers. The law must suppress it. It will not do, of course, for a free government like that at Washington, to say that working men and women are forbidden to decide for themselves how many children they should have. Of course, the woman, even the working woman, is free in this country. She owns her own body. Do we not punish the cadet, the pimp? Woman must own her own body, unless, of course, she is given away to man in legal wedlock. But controlling the birth rate is another matter. It is interference with natural laws and processes, hence immoral. Eureka, we have it! A law must be passed against immorality. And if immorality is illegal, then all information that might lead to such immorality is obscene, lewd and pernicious. The agitation of Margaret Sanger must be stopped!

From the premises of its interests, law and capital are perfectly consistent. But the wolf is also quite consistent in devouring the lamb. Is it any reason, however, why the workers should remain patient lambs?

It is up to the workingmen and working women of this country to defend their interests. It is decidedly to their interest to know how to keep from having too large families. The average worker cannot support decently even one child. Is his wife or sweetheart to go on bearing undesired children only because they don’t know how to prevent their coming? Surely every worker should be interested in gaining the necessary knowledge. Science supplies it, and there is only one reason why the workers do not use means of prevention: ignorance, lack of information. Any one who enlightens them in this matter is doing a humanitarian work in the broadest sense.

It is to the interest of every workingman and working woman to come to the aid of Margaret Sanger, a courageous and determined woman, who is seeking to help the workers even at the risk of imprisonment.

We urge immediate action. It is not so much a question of financial aid or mere lip protest. But if all those who secretly practice prevention, and those who believe in the need of spreading this information, would have the courage to voice their opinions openly and loudly, there would rise such a volume of indignation against the persecution of Margaret Sanger that the government would not dare railroad her to prison, as it now threatens to do.

Absence of government; disbelief in, and disregard of, invasion and authority based on coercion and force; a condition of society regulated by voluntary agreement instead of government.