Birth Control and the Law
While Margaret Sanger did battle for birth control with the medical profession, she was also engaged on another front with the law. For more than 20 years after her initial indictment under the Comstock law in 1914, Mrs. Sanger worked to have its statutes nullified either by legislative amendment or judicial interpretation.
The federal Comstock law forbade the mailing, interstate transportation, and importation of contraceptive materials and information. 1. In addition, twenty-two states had "little Comstock laws" which imposed restrictions ranging from New York's confinement of lawful contraception to physicians prescribing "for the cure or prevention of disease," to Massachusetts' prohibition on publishing information and distributing material having to do with contraception, to Connecticut's absolute ban on the "use" of birth control devices. From the beginning of Mrs. Sanger's career until 1930 no court construed the federal statutes with regard to contraception. Nor, with the exception of the New York Court of Appeals' action in Mrs. Sanger's case in 1918, did any state court until 1929 render a decision favorable to the birth control advocates. 2.____________________