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"It is useless to legislate against such a personal matter as birth control." Mrs. Cora Hodson, former editor of the Eugenics Review of London and at present Secretary of the Eugenics Education Society, told a CRIMSON reporter yesterday. "In spite of laws," she continued, "the use of contraceptive measures is extensive among young people and the educated classes in the United States, while there are 24 cities in your country with clinics attempting to spread information on birth control among the lower classes where the birth rate is the highest."
Mrs. Hodson has been making a tour of the United States, speaking, on Eugenics. She talked yesterday before a meeting of the Harvard Liberal Club "Many people first felt," she said, "that fear of pregnancy was the great upholder of morality, and pointed to the fast that in England, where there are no laws against the spread of information on birth control, prostitution has decidedly lessened. But indeed, the spread of contraception has led to a newer and truer morality, based on a saner view of sex problems. Many, also, have feared birth control, except in medical necessity, as leading to sterilization. But as a matter of fact, large families can be comfortably raised with the aid of contraception, while frequent progenies without the spacing that birth con trol brings, have often led to sterility or miscarriage."
The Secretary of the Eugenics Education Society went on to outline the history of birth control. "Measures to prevent pregnancy are probably as old as man," she said, "but most of the early formulas were magical and of no real utility. In France contraception on a large scale has existed for 100 years, due to the inheritance laws which share property equally among the children. Many blame France's static population on this, and the French Government has passed extremely strict laws against spreading birth control information, but France has no higher birth rate than England whose population increases 300,000 annually and where contraception is perfectly legal. In Holland the spread of contraception has been rapid in the last 45 years in spite of official opposition, because the midwives of that country have learned its methods. In other countries it is a medical, and therefore a slower matter."
"England," she continued, "tried to muzzle birth control by prosecuting the spread of its knowledge under the obscenity laws. But the famous trial of Mrs. Besant showed that it was legal for any Englishman to obtain contraceptive information, and since that time birth control has been steadily increasing, with clinics throughout the country to disseminate knowledge of it.
"American laws," Mrs. Hodson concluded, "have made contraception a purely medical matter. Margaret Sanger made it possible for a woman to whom another pregnancy might bring death or severe illness to obtain knowledge of contraceptive measures, and it is under this cloak that much information is given out. But it is necessary, if we desire to decrease the pauper classes, to institute an unhampered program of research into contraceptive questions to discover, if possible, a simple way to free poor or feeble minded women from the burden of families too large to be brought up with safety.
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