Tuesday 13th October 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Dizzying World Of Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Review”

August 27, 2014 Featured Today No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of 900 of the best quotes from The Birth Control Review, which is more than 300 pages long and is organized by topic, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.)

+    +    +

The most common themes of Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Review (BCR) were eugenics and contraception, with hatred of the Catholic Church running a close third.
Planned Parenthood’s loathing of the Catholic Church is nearly a century old, and springs mostly from its realization that the Church is its primary opponent.
As one editorial in The Birth Control Review revealed, “Our experience of the last ten years of constant fighting has been that of all the reactionary groups in the country the Roman Catholic Church is the most politically pernicious and menacing to any progressive movement.”
Another writer asserted: “Religion, in its organized forms, is the archenemy of the birth control movement throughout the world. . . . That they are out of touch with current opinion and modern thought, seldom if ever occurs to them, as they wave their venerable superstitions in our faces.” Margaret Sanger herself said that “today the chief warfare against Birth Control is waged by the Roman Catholic clergy and their allies.” She recounted that “very early in childhood I associated large families with poverty, toil, unemployment, drunkenness, cruelty, quarreling, fighting, debts, jail — and the Catholic Church.”
Then, as now, the people who demanded tolerance for their own views accused the Catholic Church of “fiendish cruelty,” forcing women to “choose between perpetual adoration and perpetual pregnancy,” plotting to “apply the thumbscrew and the rack to all those who believe in a woman’s right to practice voluntary motherhood,” and that the Church demanded that “women shall be bent and broken on the torture rack of ignorance.”
Frequent BCR contributor and science fiction writer H.G. Wells raved that “Rome is the source and center of Fascism. . . . Why do we not bomb Rome? Why do we allow these open and declared antagonists of democratic freedom to entertain their Shinto allies and organize a pseudo-Catholic destruction of democratic freedom?”
Such nonsense was warmly welcomed in the pages of The Birth Control Review not once or twice, but hundreds of times.
Many of these statements were simply the result of profound and blinding ignorance, which allowed people to make blanket statements that made no historical sense. For instance, one doctor alleged: “All religions have always considered woman as a breeding machine and nothing else.”

Conspiracies Galore

The anti-Catholics who wrote for The Birth Control Review perceived the Catholic Church as the root of all their troubles, and feared a papist conspiracy lurking around every corner. They were every bit as paranoid then as the “pro-choicers” are now.
One writer claimed that the Church wanted to rule the world by making everyone live by Catholic teachings (sound familiar)? Another hoped that the Church’s “dastardly attempt to destroy our liberties” would fail and complained that she was trying to “deprive Americans of the right of free speech and the free discussion of their laws.” George Hallett was convinced that Church leaders “have most of the legislators enslaved.” Finally, Margaret Sanger griped that “the influence of the Roman Catholic Church was seen everywhere…the Church apparently dominates American courts of justice and political life today.”
One writer for The Birth Control Review wrote that “the Catholics are directing our legislators to act according to their will. We have all been troubled by the fear that this Catholic threat to our free institutions would materialize if Catholics were given positions of power in our government.”
Imagine the reaction if the word “Jew” appeared in the above quote instead of “Catholic.” But somehow, such anti-Catholic bigotry seems perfectly acceptable to Planned Parenthood.
Frequent contributor Norman Himes claimed that the Pope ran Massachusetts and that “we shall soon have the iron heel of Romanism upon our throats even as it treads upon the freedom of Italian citizens today.” Himes also believed that Catholic “stock” was inferior to that of Unitarians, Universalists, and Freethinkers, and that all rights (including the right to life) are bestowed by the state and can be revoked at any time.
Of course, the Catholic Church was attacked by Protestant denominations that had surrendered in the fight against birth control. One submission from the magazine The Protestant said that “it is limitation of the birthrate, and not the means by which the limitation is accomplished, that the Papacy is fighting. Its demand is for large families and large Roman Catholic voting populations. It is the fact, not the methods, of birth control that angers it.”
There were charlatans and turncoats then as there are now. One minister claimed that birth control was “good religion.” Another alleged that “the eugenic ideal may become a distinct aid to Jesus’ dream of His kingdom on earth, and may well be integrated as a general religious concept.”

Here We Go Again

One of the worst afflictions of the Church over the past century is failed priests who soothed their own guilty consciences by attacking the Church. Former priest L.H. Lehmann wrote articles that are almost identical to those that appear in Catholics for (a Free) Choice literature today:
“At the bottom of the Papacy’s attitude towards sex, as in its attitude towards everything else in the domestic and public life of men and women, is its unceasing reach after supreme control of the bodies and souls of all men. . . . Although universal power and dominion be foreign to the mind of Christ, history is writ large with the record of shame brought upon the fair name of Christianity by this unceasing reach of the Roman Church after undisputed dominion over all men and nations.”
Writers for The Birth Control Review used exactly the arguments that CFFC and other pro-abortion groups use today. One editorial claimed that “the coercive attitude of the National Catholic Alumni Federation protest is far more serious, threatening as it does the American principle of freedom of opinion and the separation of church and state….The real issue centers in the Catholic disregard of the principle of freedom of conscience upon which the country was, supposedly, founded.”
Another charged: “Instead of separation of church and state with equal rights for all religious denominations, they are asking that the religious tenets of one church shall be by law binding on all the men and women of America….Let the Catholic Church guide its own people, but let it not dominate the lives of those who are not in its fold.”
Another editorial proclaimed that “the Roman Catholics say that Birth Control is immoral. We claim that for us Birth Control is of high moral value. We do not ask to constrain their consciences, let them cease to attempt to constrain ours.”
The Culture of Death thinks that “separation of Church and state” really means “where the state advances, the Church must retreat.” And so, we have constant efforts by pro-abortion groups to force Catholic hospitals and doctors to perform abortions and sterilizations and distribute contraceptives.

What Will Replace Religion?

One book review in The Birth Control Review said that “the main argument is a simple one, that many features of orthodox religion in themselves are bad and that the old religious culture pattern is hopelessly inconsistent with modern science and with a progressively secularized culture. Crush the infamous thing and away with the rubbish.”
If this “infamous thing” is to become “rubbish,” what will replace it? Francis B. Summer says that “science now aims at nothing less than the establishment of a new religion, without priest or dogma, the sole aim of which is the happiness and ennoblement of humanity on earth, and Neo-Malthusianism, though not the whole, is the chief factor in that religion.”
Another writer called science “the only possible savior of mankind.” Science as savior hasn’t done too well for itself, has it?

Who Wins In The End?

Although the editors of The Birth Control Review preferred articles submitted by dissenting “Catholics,” they were kind enough to occasionally allow authentic Catholic writers to submit opinion pieces. Seen from a vantage point nearly a century later, these articles are eerily prophetic.
For example, one Fr. Fulton Sheen commented on the Federal Council of Churches capitulation on birth control, writing that “since a week ago last Saturday we can no longer expect them to defend the law of God. These sects will work out the very logic of their ways and in fifty or one hundred years there will be only the Church and paganism. We will be left to fight the battle alone — and we will.”
Fr. Sheen was absolutely correct. Since 1960, the membership of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has risen 43 percent, and the memberships of all pro-life churches has increased by 38 percent. Meanwhile, the combined membership rolls of pro-abortion churches in the United States have plunged 34 percent. Most interestingly, those timid and lukewarm churches that have proclaimed that they are “neutral” on abortion have lost 81 percent of their members since 1960.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Vatican revokes Catholic priest’s press credentials after he challenged archbishop

ROME, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Amid continuing concern about the Vatican press office’s “manipulation” of the family synod’s message, a priest who has been covering Vatican news for over 15 years had his credentials revoked last week, and was…Continue Reading

Condemned ‘Catholic’ group uses Vatican press access to challenge African bishop on homosexuality

Analysis ROME, October 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — At the Vatican’s press briefing Thursday, the head of a U.S. group that aims to change Church teaching on homosexuality challenged an African bishop for perceived silence on the criminalization of “gay and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Schonborn says Synod’s contentious parts are yet to come

ROME, October 9, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) –Thursday, October 8, saw a surprise for the Synod of Bishops on the Family, when the Synod Secretariat announced that the only German-speaking discussion group among the 13 discussion groups (circuli minores) is not, as…Continue Reading

Leading African cardinal critiques Vatican spokesman Fr. Rosica

ROME, October 9, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, a leading cardinal on the organizing committee for the Synod on the Family, issued a pointed critique on Twitter of a controversial report on the Synod by the Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Archbishop Chaput: Synod’s working text risks ‘compromise’ with sin

ROME, October 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Fresh off of the World Meeting of Families, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput gave a strong intervention at the Vatican’s family synod this week, warning that the meeting’s working text risks “compromise” with sin. The…Continue Reading

Canadian Catholic Schools Defy Archbishop on Transgender Policy

DMONTON, Alberta, Canada, October 8, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – A Catholic school district in Canada is planning to approve a transgender policy contrary to its archbishop’s guidelines. The Edmonton Catholic school district in Alberta wants to push through a radical transgender…Continue Reading

Synod Showdown Report—October 5, 2015

We’re just out of the first press briefing of the Synod 2015, and things have pretty much picked up where they ended last year. The lead story, if you want to say there’s a lead to this, was a question…Continue Reading

Gov. Brown signs controversial assisted-suicide bill

Caught between conflicting moral arguments, Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminary student, signed a measure Monday allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths. Brown appeared to struggle in…Continue Reading

Someone is Lying About the Pope’s Meeting with Kim Davis

Papal spokesman Father Thomas Rosica flatly denies Kim Davis met privately with Pope Francis when he visited Washington, D.C. which stands in flat contradiction to Davis’s claims. In Roscia’s telling Davis was part of a large number of people as…Continue Reading

Top Universities Defend Research Using Body Parts From Aborted Babies

Some of America’s top universities have signed a letter urging states not to support legislation that would ban the sale of aborted babies for research. The letter comes after ten videos surfaced exposing Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting business, along with…Continue Reading

Catholic Hospitals Sued For Refusing Emergency Care To Pregnant Women

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday announced that it is suing Trinity Health Corporation, which operates 80 hospitals nationwide, for refusing to provide pregnant women suffering from life-threatening emergency complications with abortions. Trinity Health hospitals have “repeatedly and systematically…Continue Reading

Too Scared to Pray? ISIL Cancels Prayers for Fear of Russian Airstrikes

The Islamic State terror group cancelled Friday prayers in the Syrian city of Raqqa and emptied mosques there out of fear of further Russian airstrikes, according to activists and city residents. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 7

(Vatican Radio) Monday 12 Oct. Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, spokesman for the Holy See, was accompanied by Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB and two couples – Pedro & Ketty De Rezende from Brazil and Ishwar & Penny Bajaj from India – at the daily press briefing for the Synod on the Family. It would be a welcome innovation if there was a proposal to the bishops of the world to ensure much more formation and accompaniment of couples…Continue Reading

Synod of Bishops, Week 1: Suspended Between Pastoral Despair or the Decision to Hope


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia gave probably the best description of the Synod’s Working Document – and by extension of the Synod’s discussion so far. In his October 7 speech at the Synod, published on the archdiocese web site – Archbishop Chaput said that the working documents “present us two conflicting views: pastoral despair or the decision to hope.” The Synod Fathers’ sentiment after one week has been swinging between these two poles. Pope…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: Be on Guard, Evil One Is Always Trying to Deceive

At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Considers Necessity of Discerning and Watchfulness Vatican City, October 09, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter | 3436 hits Pope Francis today at his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta recalled that a Christian should always discern what God is doing and asking in a situation, since the Evil One is always present as well, and trying to deceive. Vatican Radio reported that the Holy Father drew his homily from today’s Gospel…Continue Reading

Prelates Note Satisfaction With Synod’s Work So Far . . . Say Instrumentum Laboris a ‘Martyr Document’ Meant to Be Changed

Rome, October 09, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter Though reports from the 13 working groups read today at the synod of bishops showed generalized dissatisfaction with the Instrumentum Laboris, Cardinal Antonio Tagle of Manila says that is to be expected, as the working document is meant to be a “martyr document,” revised and corrected during the process of the synod. That was one of several points made at today’s briefing in the Vatican press office, to…Continue Reading

Santorum Urges Making Difference . . . CMP Videos Had Fast Impact, Pregnancy-Center Head Says

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — As GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum urged people to make a difference to save this nation, the leader of a pregnancy center here told an audience that the powerful Planned Parenthood videos from the Center for Medical Progress had an instant effect. Speaking at the annual fund-raising dinner of Phoenix’s…Continue Reading

Is Education Possible?

By DONALD DeMARCO It may seem odd to question whether education is possible. After all, is it not true that education is going on, if not flourishing, all over North America? The question, however, is not without merit for, in far too many instances, what passes for education is not really education at all. Relativism,…Continue Reading

A Movie Review . . . Giving Their Lives Over To “A Better Way”

By REY FLORES For the past year and a half since a young man named Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Mo., race relations in America have been going backwards. It wasn’t so much that the racism grew again in an organic manner, but seems to have been manufactured by the government and the…Continue Reading

“What Is Transgenderism?”

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For all of the previous Culture of Life 101 articles on homosexuality, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “We psychiatrists should work to discourage those adults who seek surgical sex reassignment” — “sex-change”…Continue Reading

War Party Targets Putin And Assad

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Having established a base on the Syrian coast, Vladimir Putin began air strikes on ISIS and other rebel forces seeking to overthrow Bashar Assad. A longtime ally of Syria, Russia wants to preserve its toehold on the Mediterranean, help Assad repel the threat, and keep the Islamic terrorists out of Damascus.…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Mexican Exorcist Moves Toward Sainthood

By ELISE HARRIS VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — Among the eight causes for sainthood advanced by Pope Francis is a Mexican exorcist who lived during the time of the Cristero War, and was mentored by a bishop who has since been canonized. The Pope gave the green light to move the causes on to the next step in a private…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . The Church Of Christ Is Visible, Imperishable, And Infallible

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM From the 15th century onward, there have been some novel doctrines about the nature of the Church of Christ. In order to avoid obedience to the pastors of the Church, especially the Pope in Rome, those creative little minds came up with the idea that the Church is not visible: That is, she has no…Continue Reading

Mission Of The Catholic Laity: Priest, Prophet, And King

By DON FIER Part 2 As baptized Christians, as we saw last week, each member of the lay faithful participates in the life and work of Jesus Christ and thus in His threefold office of priest, prophet, and king. As expressed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): “The whole People of God participates in these three offices of…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. But aren’t there other groupings of angels and what are they? — A.C., Florida. A. Based on the writings of Saints Dionysius, Gregory the Great, and Thomas Aquinas, the Church has taught that there are nine choirs of angels. Beginning at the highest level, they are Seraphim,…Continue Reading

Choose To Serve Rather Than To Be Served

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Ninth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 53:10-11 Heb. 4:14-16 Mark 10:35-45 In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells us that He came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. This is our hope for eternal salvation and, obviously, it is our hope…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. John XXIII

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 As we saw in part 1, the ecclesiastical career of Angelo Roncalli up until 1953 had already shown him to be a man dedicated to the Church. Frequently he had to serve the Church despite family tragedies. Wherever the Church asked him to go, he went obediently without complaint. Despite the many persecutions, sacrifices, and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Pope St. John XXIII

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 Although rare, it is not unknown for a poor man, who had no connections and did not seek to develop them, to rise above all other men in stature and in influence over mankind. Such was the case of the sharecroppers’ son, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. Throughout his ecclesiastical career, he was obedient and kind, but…Continue Reading