Planned Parenthood & Birth Control History: Collections
Founded in New York by Margaret Sanger in 1916, today Planned Parenthood is the United States’ largest provider of reproductive health-care services, from birth control and contraceptives to pregnancy advice and abortion. The materials in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive allow researchers to explore the long history of this organization alongside other primary sources that cover female health, especially birth control and reproductive rights.
From the first birth control clinic, opened in New York in October 1916 by founder Margaret Sanger along with Ethel Byrne and Fania Mindell at a time when it was still illegal to educate women about birth control in the United States, Planned Parenthood has long advocated for reproductive rights. That clinic was shut down by the police within nine days, but it started over a century of efforts to educate the public about birth control, along with campaigning and support for women throughout the country.
Sanger’s activism and the work of Planned Parenthood has led to significant changes in the availability of family planning across the United States. The work of Sanger and her Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau and the American Birth Control League, alongside that of other activists, led to the legalization of birth control devices—first in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, and many years later, more broadly across the country. Sanger and her organization continued this work, and in 1948 Planned Parenthood funded research into a birth control pill, the widespread use of which, despite unethical exploitation of women during development trials in Puerto Rico, has changed the lives of women and families globally. In 1970, with Title X of the Public Health Service Act, it became available everywhere in the United States.