The early twentieth century was a turning point in American history-especially in regards to the acquisition of women's rights. While the era was considered to be prosperous and later thought to be a happy-go-lucky time, in actuality, it was a time of grave social conflict and human suffering (Parish, 110). Among those who endured much suffering were women. As Margaret Sanger found out, women, especially those who were poor, had no choice regarding pregnancy. The only way not to get pregnant was by not having sex- a choice that was almost always the husband's. This was even more true in the case of lower-class men for whom, 'sex was the poor man's only luxury' (Douglas, 31). As a nurse who assisted in delivering babies, Margaret Sanger was very aware of how unwanted pregnancies affected lives. She witnessed the affects of self-induced abortions, the transferring of diseases from mother to child, and the deaths of mothers and children due to poor health conditions. Feeling strongly about the problem unwanted pregnancies, Sanger devoted her life to acquiring the right for women to prevent pregnancies through the use of contraceptives. After years of dedication and hard work, Margaret Sanger not only accomplished what she had hoped for-making people understand the importance and necessity of birth control, but also accomplishes something greater by extending women's rights as well.
In a society where it was considered inappropriate for girls to know about their anatomy and its functions, let alone talk and read about it, Margaret Sanger realized that she must create literature that informed girls about their bodies. She produced a pamphlet titled What Every Girl Should Know. In it, she discussed subjects like physical growth, mental development, puberty, menstruation, sexual impulses, reproduction,
hygiene of pregnancy, and various venereal diseases (Sanger-Girl, 1). While her book was considered "obscene, lewd and lascivious material" (Gray, 43), Sanger was convinced that education about these topics were necessary. Through the publishing of What Every girl Should Know, Margaret Sanger demonstrated to common women, to her adversaries, and to the government that women deserve the right to learn about and understand their bodies.
In addition to What Every Girl Should Know, Sanger created other propaganda, which informed women that they deserved the right to prevent births. The purpose of her first publication of this type, a magazine called The Woman Rebel, was to inspire women to demand rights. She wanted "to stimulate working women to think for themselves and to build up a conscience, fighting character" (Douglas, 50). In each issue of the "Rebel", she discussed topics such as child labor, women and children in industry, health and cultural opportunities. She believed that women must determine her own maternity-"This was the most precious freedom" (Douglas, 50).