Flyer, 'Write to Your Representatives to support H.R. 10925," 1920
A coalition of women’s organizations, health associations, and other civic groups published this flyer in support of the Sheppard-Towner bill (H.R. 10925), which was introduced during the 66th Congress (1919-1921). They highlighted the severity of statistics on maternal and infant mortality: 23,000 mothers died annually from childbirth, and infant deaths numbered 250,000.
How long are YOU going to let mothers and babies die?
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
Protecting Mothers and Infants
In 1921 Congress passed the first federally funded social welfare program, the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act. To reduce alarming rates of maternal and infant mortality, the act provided support to states for prenatal and infant health care. Women activists, using their newly won voting rights, urged Congress to pass the five-year program and renew it in 1926. But with challenges to its constitutionality in the Supreme Court and opposition from the American Medical Association, the act expired in 1929.