Margaret's quest began long before she was known by the public. It started when she was just a young girl. As with most children, her parents were a large influence on her life, but in a way different than perhaps many others. Margaret's father provided her with all the mental tools she would need to succeed. A free thinker and outspoken radical, her father, Michael Higgins, influenced his young daughter to act the same way; to question everything and to stand up for what she believed in. Though Margaret loved her mother, she conceded that definetly her father was the major influence in her early life. Her mother however also had a large influence, yet not in quite the same way. Anna Sanger bore ten children other than Margaret, causing her to be both constantly pregnant and constantly sick, leaving little time for her children. Thus Margaret and her siblings were constantly forced to care for themselves. Anna died at an early age to TB which Margaret attributed to her multiple pregnancies. It was then that she decided to become a nurse and start helping pregnant women.
Working as a nurse in the ghettos of New York, Sanger became all too familiar with some horrible sights. She saw many women die of very preventable deaths due to child labor, and horrible methods of self-induced abortion. After seeing one woman die from a horrific attempt to give herself an abortion Sanger had decided that she had seen enough. It was too late for her to help these women when they came to her as a nurse. She felt she must attack the source of the problem, birth control. She stated, "I went to bed, knowing that no matter what it might cost, I was finished with palliatives and superficial cures; I was resolved to seek out the root of evil, to do something to change the destiny of mothers whose miseries were vast as the sky."
Sanger and Her Battle With the Catholic Church
Margaret Sanger's largest opposition came from the Catholic church. The Catholic church viewed itself as tradition, and it's teachings the teaching of tradition. The Catholic Church took the stance that there was one truth, that which they taught, and that truth did not evolve. The bible was the written words of the apostles, and therefore, there was no need to modify or change what was written. Pope Pius XI said, "the conjugal act is of it's very nature designed for the procreation of offspring; and therefore those performing it deliberately deprived of it?s natural power and efficacy, act against nature and do something shameful and intrinsically immoral".
At a time when so much was changing in societal norms, the Catholic Church refused to acknowledge these changes. Demonstrators met Sanger no matter where she went. They would chant and hold signs, calling her immoral and a sinner. Their need for tradition was the major problem that fed the battle with Sanger. Sanger battled back.
Sanger and her followers accused the church of wanting to keep women suppressed. She also argued...