Correspondence on Mailing Contraceptives in America

Dublin Core


Correspondence on Mailing Contraceptives in America


Birth Control--Attitudes
Birth Control--Government Policy
Birth Control--U.S. States
Obscenity (Laws)--U.S. States


Legal statement outlining the legality of selling or mailing contraceptives in America by anyone other than a physician. Mr. McWilliams confirmed that it was illegal to do so if one is not a physician by state law, but federal law allows giving information about contraceptives to physicians. He also gives his legal opinion on the law and its future.


Mr. McWilliam






Paper correspondence with typed ink and pencil, 12X8 inches


Harry Ransom Center


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Container 198.8, Item Title: Series II, Legal Cases and Causes, General Correspondence 1937-1938, American Birth Control League. Collection: Morris Leopold Ernst Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Text Item Type Metadata


File Am. Birth Control League

From a survey of the law as construed and administered today, it is evident that physicians may legally give contraceptives advice and treatment whenever they deem it medically indicted.

As construed in recent decisions, the federal law do not prohibit the mailing of contraceptive supplies and information to physicians, or to other persons upon a physician’s direction, for medical use, [wherever such use is not forbidden by the state law.] The laws of 40 states do not interfere with the use of contraceptives in medical practice. And according to legal opinion, the restrictions which the other 8 states impose in their laws upon the distribution of contraceptive supplies and information do not apply to medical use by physicians. Administrators of the law evidently concur in this opinion, for they permit physicians to give contraceptives advice and treatment in office and clinic.

(Version as dictated by Mr. McWilliams over telephone at 3:30 on May 7th and revised at 3:55. Final)

May 13/1936
Mr. Ernst,
I telephoned to your secretary about the above today, and would like to speak to you hopefully tomorrow morning about it
Yours _____
W___ J McWilliams

Original Format



Mr. McWilliam , “Correspondence on Mailing Contraceptives in America,” Subverting Silence: Uplifting Marginalized Conversations, accessed July 3, 2022,

Output Formats