Clare Boothe Luce argues vigorously against birth control

September 2, 2013

Clare Boothe

Clare Boothe

Ann Clare Boothe was born on April 10, 1903, in a dismal apartment house on Riverside Drive in New York City….

Clare herself once succinctly pictured her unpropitious prospects as a baby. Shortly after her conversion to Catholicism, she was attacked by an ardent disciple of Mrs. Sanger for the Catholic stand against birth control. She wound up her tirade by saying, “I cannot understand anyone as enlightened as yourself subscribing to that doctrine.”

Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont (Vanderbilt) & Miss Clare Boothe, April 28, 1923.

Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont (Vanderbilt) & Miss Clare Boothe, April 28, 1923.

“I think I appreciate your logic,” said Clare. “Let’s take the case of a young married woman, frail and ill, deserted by her husband, earning a precarious livelihood as a sales girl and about to become a mother for the second time. In due time the baby would arrive under circumstances that might be described as abject poverty—not even enough food in the house. No prospects of security for the child. Certainly no prospects of giving it even the ordinary opportunities for a happy home or a good education. Now I presume you would consider that those conditions would justify birth control?”

“Obviously,” was the reply.

Clare snapped the trap. “That’s just it. Now will you tell me why I did not have the right to be born? I, for one, am a pretty good argument against the birth controllers.”

Clare Boothe Luce, U.S. ambassador to Italy, and husband, publisher Henry Luce, arriving at Idelwild Airport, New York in 1954.

Clare Boothe Luce, U.S. ambassador to Italy, and husband, publisher Henry Luce, arriving at Idelwild Airport, New York in 1954.

In actual fact, Clare telescoped a bit in order to make her point. When she was born, Mr. Boothe had not deserted her mother—yet; and they probably still had enough to eat. But if truth need not be constricted too rigidly by time, her picture was accurate.

Billy Boothe, as he liked to be called, was a gentleman in the faded meaning of the term. He was descended from the Booth family who in early Colonial days arrived on the shores of the Chesapeake in the Ark and Dove. Since she was the Mayflower of Maryland, the Booths are just about as old a family as there is in America.

Subscription13

Alden Hatch, Ambassador Extraordinary: Clare Boothe Luce (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955), 22-23.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 313

 

 

Print Friendly
Share

Previous post:

Next post: