From within their human experience of marriage . . . the married couple, and they alone, can answer the question of what God requires of them concretely in their vocation.
-- BISHOP WILLIAM BEKKERS
To understand their task, the Commission members had to realize how profoundly public attitudes toward contraception had changed during the twentieth century. What the Church regarded as pariah and perversion, secular society (and other Christian churches) were coming to see as common sense, even salvation. In the United States and in much of the Western world, no one was more active in this reconstruction effort than Margaret Sanger, a New York nurse credited with coining the term "birth control." Struck by the suffering and ill health due to unwanted pregnancies that she encountered in major urban centers, Sanger at the age of thirty-three in 1916 opened in Brooklyn the first birth control clinic in the United States. Nine days later the police closed down the operation, and a judge sentenced her to thirty days in prison for obscenity. She had violated the so-called Comstock law, which forbade, among other things, the dissemination of objects or information for the prevention of conception.
The law had been passed by Congress in 1873, not at the behest of the Catholic Church but through the crusading work of Anthony Comstock, a strict Calvinist and head of the New York AntiPornography organization. In his latter years Comstock claimed he had destroyed 160 tons of obscene material and brought about the conviction of "enough persons to fill a passenger train of 61 coaches." 1
But a lot had changed between 1873 and 1916. The trend from
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Turning Point:The Inside Story of the Papal Birth Control Commission, and How Humanae Vitae Changed the Life of Patty Crowley and the Future of the Church. Contributors: Robert McClory - Author. Publisher: Crossroad Publishing. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 18.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.