Birth control may have been practised by the ancient Greeks and throughout history with variable success but it was still a scandalous subject in Victorian England in the 19th Century. Annie Besant, a free-thinking early campaigner for women’s rights, and an early advocate for birth control, ended up on trial on charges of obscenity for publishing a pamphlet that provided instructions of how best to avoid conception, though she was acquitted. A new book about her by Michael Meyer described her as a “a badass, a battering ram, a woman who inspired the next generation of social reformers”. Unlike Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes who followed she was not a eugenicist but had a simple desire to see women not worn out by child-bearing.
Besant, 1 October 1847 5.29pm London, was a Sun, North Node, Venus, Mercury and Chiron in Libra with Uranus and Pluto in Aries, born just before the mid century triple conjunction. She also had an ultra-determined Mars in Taurus. She was assisted by Charles Bradlaugh, an MP, atheist, political activist and founder of the Secular Society, 26 September 1833, another Sun, in Libra conjunct Saturn and Mars with Chiron conjunct Algol in late Taurus.
The two names most associated with pioneering birth control were born within a year of each other with Pluto in late Taurus and Chiron in Taurus.
Margaret Sanger, 14 September 1879 2.30am New York, one of 11 children herself, the founder of the American Birth Control League, the forerunner of Planned Parenthood Federation, was a redoubtable Sun Virgo trine Mars Pluto Algol conjunction in Taurus. She was supported financially and in other ways by Katherine McCormick, 27 August 1875, a Sun Mercury in Virgo with Pluto and Neptune in Taurus.
Marie Stopes, 15 October 1889 4.10 am Edinburgh, Scotland, the key UK sex reformer and promoter of birth control, had her Sun conjunct Mars in Libra opposition Saturn in Aries; with Pluto and Neptune in Taurus. She was helped by her second husband Humphrey Roe, 18 April 1878 who also had a clutch of Taurus planets and was an Aries Sun.
Of the reformers Sun Libra and Virgo seem favoured and definitely the mid 19th Century Pluto in Taurus helped. Annie Besant of them all looks the most determined social reformer.