Margaret Higgins Sanger (1883-1966) was an American nurse who campaigned widely for birth control and in 1929 founded an organisation which became the Planned Parent Federation in 1942.
Margaret Sanger was born in Corning, New York. She was the sixth child of eleven children. She witnessed her mother"s endless struggle to raise a large family on a small income. Margaret's mother died at a young age of 49, and this factor led to Margaret's commitment to make efforts, and secure a reproductive choice for all women.
Margaret did her nursing training at White Plains Hospital, and married William Sanger, who was an architect by profession. They had three children in eight years of married life. While working as a midwife and visiting nurse in New York, Sanger became an active member of International Workers of the World's textile workers. After learning about the death of a young client from self-induced abortion, Sanger focused her attention on the issue of reproductive autonomy, and vowed to establish a nationwide system of advice centers from where women could obtain reliable birth control information.
Sanger's journal Women rebel launched in 1914 was held up for violating the postal code. Then she introduced a pamphlet Family Limitation which contained information on birth control techniques.
In October 1916 Sanger and her sister Ethel Bryne opened a clinic in Brooklyn providing 488 women with contraceptive advice over 10 days, after which the clinic was closed by the police. Later the two sisters "the birth control sisters" were charged for creating public nuisance. But this event made Sanger a national figure. Though Sanger was convicted , she won an appeal which opened the way for physicians to give birth control advice.
In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, and served as its president till 1928. In 1927 she had organised the first World Population Conference. In 1941 the League became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
After World War II in 1942, Sanger founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Her unceasing effort led to the introduction of the first birth control pill. This was the culmination of all her efforts in life.