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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.

1 Image H.R. 12634, A bill to encourage instruction in the hygiene of... View All Images
2 Images Letter from Mrs. Mae C. Mitchell opposing the Sheppard-Towner... View All Images
1 Image Group portrait of women activists supporting passage of the Sheppard-... View All Images
2 Images Flyer, 'Write to Your Representatives to support H.R. 10925,... View All Images
1 Image Letter from Mary McLeod Bethune to Representative James S. Parker,... View All Images