As the democratic floor leader, Rep. Birmingham recorded the opposition of the Democratic Party in the House to a bill that would ease restrictions on doctors to prescribe contraception to women, reported the Springfield Republican, Feb. 19, 1931, pp. 1, 2.
The debate over the bill pitted representatives of the Protestant religion against those of the Catholic religion.
The bill was supported by prominent members of the Boston medical community, including Dr George Gilbert Smith, who spoke in favor of the measure. He said that the measure would clarify that doctors have the right to prescribe contraceptive measures when the health of the patient warrants it.
Smith noted that current laws did not prohibit the use of contraception but they did prohibit the sale of drugs and instruments for such purpose. The bill was intended to clarify the law in this regard.
The Massachusetts Federation of Churches, a group representing 90 percent of the Protestant church members in the state, supported the bill, while the Massachusetts Catholic Women’s league opposed it.
Rev. Kenneth McArthur, executive secretary of the federation, said that his group had examined the bill and unanimously supported its passage.
Father Jones I. J. Corrigan, a Boston College professor representing Cardinal O’Connell, opposed the bill on the grounds of “decency,” saying that he was opposed to degeneracy.”
He said that the bill’s passage would open the gate to clinics teaching about the subject of contraception. “People who love their children and don’t want them menaced by anything like this measure,” he said