Although we may take for granted the variety of contraceptive, or birth control, methods
available in the United States today, this situation is relatively recent. Through much of
American history both the methods available for contraception and the laws concerning
their use have been restrictive. In the 1870s, Anthony Comstock, then secretary of the New
York Society for the Suppression of Vice, succeeded in enacting national laws that
prohibited the dissemination of contraceptive information through the U.S. mail on the
grounds that such information was obscene; these laws were known as the Comstock Laws.
At that time, the only legitimate form of birth control was abstinence, and reproduction
was viewed as the only acceptable reason for sexual intercourse.
Margaret Sanger dedicated herself to helping women and families have every child
be a wanted child.
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