The People of the State of New York v. Margaret H. Sanger (1918)
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In 1918, the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany broadened the justification physicians could use to prescribe contraceptives to married patients in the case The People of the State of New York v. Margaret H. Sanger (People v. Sanger). The presiding judge of People v. Sanger, Frederick Crane, ruled that under Section 1145 of the New York Penal Code physicians could provide contraceptives to married couples for the prevention of disease. However, he supported a criminal conviction against birth control activist Margaret Sanger, who had distributed contraceptives, because she was not a physician. In his ruling, Crane broadened New York’s legal definition of disease to include any situation affecting the health of married people, increasing physicians’ ability to prescribe contraceptives in New York. The case also influenced the US Supreme Court when it legalized contraception for married couples in the mid twentieth century.