MARGARET SANGER CLINIC

WOMEN

17 West 16th Street, Manhattan
ca. 1846

From 1930 to 1973, this Greek Revival style townhouse was home to the clinic of birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger (1879-1966). Sanger moved to New York City in 1911 and began working as a nurse on the Lower East Side, where she treated women with frequent births, miscarriages and self-induced abortions. At the time, birth control, a term she popularized, was not available in the United States, and the federal Comstock law of 1873 prohibited the distribution of information on the topic. She founded a monthly newsletter entitled The Woman Rebel in 1914, and was indicted for sending “obscene” material through the mail. In 1916, Sanger opened her first clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and in 1921 she helped found the American Birth Control League, which later became known as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1930, she established a more permanent home for her Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau here at 17 West 16th Street, where research was performed, patients were treated and instructed on contraceptives, and medical professionals from across the country were educated about sex, contraception and disease. The building, today a private residence, still stands as a reminder of Margaret Sanger’s groundbreaking work to advance women’s health and quality of life. Margaret Sanger'S house is a NYC Individual Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

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