Margaret Higgins Sanger Slee (September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966) was an American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist. Sanger felt that in order for women to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, women needed to be able to determine when to bear children. She also wanted to help prevent abortions, which were considered by Sanger to be the taking of human life, and which were dangerous and usually illegal at that time. Sanger was a strong supporter of free speech and was a proponent of negative eugenics.
In 1921 Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1923, she formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, and she lobbied frequently to legalize birth control in the United States. From 1952 to 1959 Sanger served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. In the early 1960s, Sanger promoted the use of the newly-available birth control pill. She toured Europe, Africa and Asia lecturing and helping to establish birth control clinics.
Margaret Higgins was born in Corning, New York. Her mother, Anne Purcell Higgins, was a devout Catholic who went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) before dying of tuberculosis and cervical cancer. Margaret's father, Michael Hennessy Higgins, was an atheist who earned his living "chiseling angels and saints out of huge blocks of white marble or gray granite for tombstones," and was also an activist for women's suffrage and free public education. Margaret was the sixth of eleven children and spent much of her youth assisting in household chores and care of her younger siblings.