On Planned Parenthood:
A Criticism of The Freeman's Editorial Stance
Harry Gunnison Brown
[Reprinted from The Freeman, May, 1940]
Will you have a truly forgiving spirit if I join my academic
colleague, Professor Glenn Hoover, in a little criticism of The
It seems to me that the paper has been unnecessarily and irrelevantly
and, even, inconsistently eager to poke ridicule at planned families
and birth control, -- at any rate by implication. Or have I
misinterpreted the essential burden of Oscar Geiger's article and of
the March verses on planned parenthood? . . .
The advocates of birth control are not fighting to have government
plan our families and so interfere with our freedom. On the contrary,
what they are fighting for is to have government allow men and women
to get information, i.e., to have government remove restrictions on
freedom. So how can a magazine which represents itself as opposed to
dictatorship and opposed to regimentation and as striving to make men
free -- "free land, free trade, free men" -- make a point
(apparently) of joining with those who want to use jails and
policemen's clubs to forcibly shut knowledge away from men and women
who need this knowledge to safeguard their family happiness?
Maybe that is not what The Freeman means at all, but I'm
afraid more than one reader has got the distinct feeling that its
editorial policy is in favor of government force to prevent people
from learning how -- by contraception -- they can adjust their
families to their incomes and their health and strength. Surely it
cannot be said that -- with single tax -- we could all advantageously
have families of thirteen!
That The Freeman has not said all this, I know. But since the
real fight of the birth control advocates is a fight for freedom,
freedom for physicians to explain things to people, a criticism of
them, even by innuendo, looks like joining their enemies and like
favoring force, therefore, to muzzle any doctor who might dare to tell
distressed women how NOT to have thirteen children in thirteen years
and still not deprive their husbands and themselves of the exercise of
the sex instinct.
It is a fact, o£ course, that a clinic supported by taxes is a
form of "stat-ism." But so are schools -- and these clinics,
which are mainly to give information, are a kind of school -- and. so
are state hospitals -- and these are, in a sense, hospitals.
Government spends money -- which it gets by taxation -- for weather
information, for agricultural research -- and even to maintain state
universities like the University of Missouri where I am paid to teach
economics and, therefore, to expound the arguments for land-value
taxation! So with all this spending of state money, why pick on money
spent, not to force people but just to give them information which
they need more because the law has so long hidden it from them? . . .
The Freeman is not
interested in birth control, except when it is advocated as a
cure for poverty, and then only to show it isn't. The
Freeman knows nothing about contraceptives, and cares less.
The Freeman is opposed, on Georgist principles, to
governmental restrictions on the dissemination of knowledge.
The Freeman is likewise opposed to the government's
taking a paternalistic -- or maternalistic -- interest in the
purely private matter of having or not having families, and
particularly to the use of tax money to indulge its parental
proclivities. - Editor