|Lessening Pauperism & the Reckless Increase of Population|
|Family Planning and Contraception|
|Despite what we might think, Victorian society was well aware of birth control and abortion; and though they may have adviced against it on the pulpit, men and women both tried desperately to find ways to enjoy sex without unwanted pregnancies.
Kingston General Hospital has recently opened an exhibit entitled From the Bedrooms of the Nation; a Brief History of Contraception in Canada which includes birth control methods from the 1850's until the present day.
|The items on display include a string of beads which were used in conjunction with the "rhythm method" to determine the least fertile days of the month. White beads were used for "safe" days, brown for "most fertile" and a single red for the first day of a woman's menstual cycle.|
|They also have a linen condom and some homemade suppositories, derived from cocoa butter and boric acid. Other methods were Juniper or Orange Blossom tea. But whatever the preferred method of contraception, Light on Dark Corners was perfectly clear; there were just too many children and something needed to be done about it.|
|Too Many Children|
|1. LESSENING PAUPERISM - Many of the agencies for lessening pauperism are afraid of tracing back it's growth to the frequency of births under wretched conditions. One begins to question whether all sweet charity or diginfied philanthropy has not acted with an unwise reticence. Amoung the problems which defy practical handling, this is the most complicated. The pauperism which arises from marriage is the results of the worst elements of character legalized.
2. RIGHT PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL CONDITIONS OF BIRTH - Society should insist upon the right spiritual and physical conditions for birth. It should be considered more than a pity when another child is born into a home that is too poor to receive it. The underlying selfishness of such an event should be recognized, for it brings motherhood under wrong conditions of health and money. Instead of each birth being the result of mature consideration and hallowed love, children are too often born as animals are born
3. WRONG RESULTS - No one hesitates to declare that it is want of self-respect and morality which brings wrong results outside of marriage, but it is also the want of them which begets evil inside the marriage relation. Though there is nothing more difficult then to find the equilibrium between self-respect and self-sacrifice, yet on success in finding it depends individual and national preservation. The fact of being wife and mother, or husband and father should imply dignity and joyousness, no matter how humble the home.
4. DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AMONGST PHYSICIANS - In regard to teaching, the difficulties are great. As soon as one advances beyond the simplest subjects of hygiene, one is met with the differences of opinions among physicians. When each one has a different method of making a mustard plaster, it's no wonder that each has his own notions about everything else. One doctor recommends frequent births; another advices against them.
5. DIFFERENT NATURES - If physiological effects are taught to a large class, there are sure to be some in it whose impressionable natures are excited by too much plain speaking, while there are others who need the most open teaching in order to gain any benefit. Talks to a few persons are generally wiser than popular lectures. Especially are talks needed by mothers and unmothered girls who come from everywhere in the city.
6. BOYS AND YOUNG MEN - It is not women alone who require the shelter of organizations and instruction, but boys and young men. There is a double standard of morality, though the methods of advocating it depend upon the sex which is to be instructed. Men are more concerned with the practical basis of morality than with it's sentiment, and with the pecuniary aspects of domestic life than with it's physical and domestic suffering. We all may need medicine for moral ills, yet the very intangibleness of purity makes us slow to formulate rules for it's growth.
7. FOR THE SAKE OF THE COUNTRY - If the home exists primarily for the sake of the individual, it exists secondarily for the sake of the state. Therefore, any home into which are continually born the inefficient children of inefficient parents, not only is it a discomfort in iteself, but it also furnishes members for the armies of the unemployed, which are tinkering and hindering legislation and demanding by the brute force of numbers that the government should support them
|Small Familes and the Improvement of the Race|
|1. MARRIED PEOPLE MUST DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES - It is the fashion of those who marry nowadays to have few children, often none. Of course this is a matter which married people must decide for themselves.
2. DISEASED PEOPLE - Diseased people who are like to beget only a sickly offspring, may follow this course, and so many thieves, vagabonds, rascals, insane and drunken persons, and all those likely to bring into the world beings that not ought to be here. But why so many well-to-do folks should pursue a policy adapted only to paupers and criminals, is not easy to explain. Why marry at all if not to found a family tht shall live to bless and make glad the earth after father and mother are gone? It is not wise to raise too many children, nor is it wise to have too few. (Does this mean that only the wealthy should procreate?)
3. POPULATION LIMITED - Galton in his great work on hereditary genius observes "The time may hereafter arrive in far distant years, when the population of this earth shall be kept strictly within the bounds of number and suitability of race, as the sheep of a well-ordered moor, or the plants in an orchard-house; in the meantime, let us do what we can to discourage the multiplication of the the races less fitted to invent and conform to a high and generous civilization". (WOW!)
4. SHALL SICKLY PEOPLE RAISE CHILDREN? - The question whether sickly people should marry and propagate their kind has been briefly alluded to in another chapter (above). Where father and mother are both consumptive, the chances are that the children will inherit physical weakness, which will result in the same disease, unless great pains are taken to give them a good physical education, and even then the probabilities are that they will find life a burden hardly worthy living.
5. NO REAL BLESSING - Where one parent is consumptive and the other vigorous, the chances are just half as great. If there is a scrofulous or consumptive taint in the blood, beware! Sickly children are no comfort to their parents; no real blessing. If such people marry, they had better, in most cases, avoid parentage.
6. WELFARE OF MANKIND - The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem; all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to it's own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage.
|7. PREVENTIVES - Remember that the thousands of preventives which are advertised in papers, private circulars, etc.; are not only inefficient, unreliable and worthless, but positively dangerous and the annual mortality of females in this country from this cause alone is truly horrifying. Study natures, and nature's laws alone will guide you safely in the path of health and happiness.|
|8. NATURE'S REMEDY - Nature in her wise economy has prepared for overproduction, for during the period of pregnancy and nursing, and also most of the last half of each menstrual month, woman is naturally sterile; but this condition may become irregular and uncertain on account of stimulating drinks or immoral excesses.|
|Prevention and It's Follies|
|1. The question is already asked "Can contraception be prevented at all times?" Certainly this is possible, but such interference with nature's laws is inadmissable, and perhaps never to be justified in any case whatever, except in the cases of deformity or disease.
2. If the parties in a marriage are both feeble and so adapted to each other that children are deformed, insane or idiots, then to beget offspring would be a flagrant wrong; if the mother's health is in such a condition as to forbid the right of laying the burden of motherhood upon her, then medical aid may safely come to her relief. If the man, however, respects the wife, he ought to come to her relief without the counsel of a physician.
|3. FORBEARANCE - Often before the mother has recovered from the effects of bearing, nursing and rearing one child, ere she has regained proper tone and vigour of body and mind, she is unexpetantly overtaken, surprised by the manifestation of symtpoms which again indicate pregnancy. Children thus begotten cannot become healthy and long-lived.
4. IMPOSTERS - During the past few years hundreds of books and pamphlets have been written on the subject, claiming that new remedies had been discovered for the prevention of conceptions, etc.; but these are all money-making devices to deceive the public and enrich the pockets of miserable and unprincipled imposters.
5. THE FOLLIES OF PREVENTION - Dr. Pancoast, an eminent authority says "The truth is, there is no medicine taken internally capable of preventing conception, and the person who asserts to the contrary, not only speaks falsely, but is both a knave and a fool. It is true enough that remedies may be taken to produce abortion after conception occurs, but those who prescribe and those who resort to such desperte expedients can only be placed in the category of lunatics and assassins".
6. PATENT MEDICINES - If nature does not promptly respond, there are many patent medicines which when taken at the time the monthly flow is about to begin, will produce the desired result. Let women beware; for it is only a question of a few years when their constitution, complexion and health will be sorry evidence of their folly.
7. FOOLISH DREAD OF CHILDREN - What is more deplorable and pitiable than an old couple childless? Young people dislike the care and confinement of children and prefer society and social entertainments and thereby do great injustice and injury to their health and find themselves in later years to visit infirmities and diseases upon their children. The vigilant and rigid measures which have to be resorted to in order to prevent conception for a period of years unfits a wife for the production of healthy children.
8. HAVING CHILDREN - Having children under the proper circumstances never ruins the health and happiness of any woman, In fact, womanhood is incomplete without them.
9. THE DESIRABILITY AND PRACTICABILITY - of limiting offspring, says Dr. Stockham "are the subject of frequent inquiry. Fewer and better children are desired by right-minded parents. Many men and women wise in other things of the world, permit generation as a chance result of copulation, without thought of physical and mental conditions to be transmitted to the child. Many a drunkard owes his life-long appetite for alcohol to the fact that the inception of his life could be traced to a night of dissipation on the part of his father. Drunkeness and licentiousness are frequently the heritage of posterity. Future generations demand that such results be averted by better pre-natal influences".
10. IT HAS BEEN FEARED THAT A KNOWLEDGE - of means to prevent conception would, if generally diffused, be abused by women; that they would to so great an extent escape motherhood as to bring about social disaster. This fear is not well founded. The maternal instinct is inherent and sovereign in women. The pre-natal influences of a murdurous intent on the part of parents scarcely ever eradicates it.
11. MANY OF THE MEANS USED TO PREVENT - conception are injurious and often lay the foundation for a train of physical ailments. Probably no one means is more serious than the practice of withdrawal, or the discharge of semen externally to the vagina. The act is incomplete and unnatural, and is followed by results similar to and as disastrous as those consequent on masturbation.
12. IS IT EVER RIGHT TO PREVENT CONCEPTION? - We submit the following case of the Juke family: "It was traced out by painstaking research that from one woman called Margaret, merely 'growed' without pedigree as a pauper in a village on the Upper Hudson, about eighty-five years ago, there descended 673 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of whom 200 were criminals of the dangerous class; 280 adult paupers and fifty prostitutes, while 300 children of her lineage died prematurely. The last fact proves to what extent nature was kind to the rest of humanity in saving it from a still larger aggregation of undesirable and costly members". (It's difficult to fathom the thinking of the day, but there it is. 300 dead children equates to savings from the welfare system)
13. THE LEGAL ASPECT IN ONTARIO - "Everyone is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to two year's imprisonment who knowingly, without lawful justification or excuse, offers to sell, advertise, publishes an advertisement for sale or diposal; any medicine, drug, or article intended or represented as a means of preventing conception or causing abortion". Criminal Code 179. "Every woman is guilty of an undictable offense and liable to seven year's imprisonment, who, whether with child or not, unlawfully administers to herself or permits to be administered to her any drug or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses on herself an instrument or other means whatsoever to procure miscarriage" Criminal Code Sect. 273.
14. IS NATURE'S METHOD RELIABLE? - Dr. Cowan says: "Sexual excitement hastens the premature ripening and meeting of the germ cell with the sperm cell, and impregnation may result, although intercourse occurs only in the specified two weeks absence of the egg from the uterus. This is just possible under peculiar circumstances of diseased conditions, or after long separation of husband and wife. However, it seldom happens, and married people, in normal health, temperate in sexual relations, desirous of controlling the size of their family, can usually depend upon this law".
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