A Hundred Years of Struggle

Alexander Sanger, Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council

In the United States, we have recently seen unprecedented attempts to undermine women’s reproductive health and rights. While Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land, in the past year, states throughout the nation enacted 92 anti-abortion provisions—the highest number ever. At the same time, anti-choice individuals have sought to restrict women’s access to basic health services that many of us take for granted, like contraception and cancer screenings.

While these attacks are unsettling, they are nothing new. One hundred years ago, my grandmother, Margaret Sanger, began her career as an advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive health. As a young visiting nurse in New York’s Lower East Side, she learned that women were routinely denied access to contraception and information about preventing pregnancies. She went on to open the first U.S. birth control clinic in Brooklyn, which operated for less than two weeks before being closed by the police.

My grandmother went to jail for 30 days, but still she kept fighting. Eventually, she and a handful of brave women founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Today, IPPF is one of the largest organizations in the world and works in more than 170 countries.

Last year, IPPF/WHR's robust network of Member Associations provided nearly 30 million services throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. Our partners work in the remote, indigenous communities in Bolivia, the alleys of Mexico City, and the high mountains of Colombia. They travel by small boats and on nearly impassable roads to make sure women in places like rural Guatemala have the tools and information they need to live healthy, empowered lives.

Each day, despite political opposition and diminished financial resources, we are creating the world my grandmother envisioned 100 years ago. We will not retreat until choice, opportunity, and equality become a reality for every individual.

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