Where Are My Children? | Chicago Reader

Where Are My Children?

Where Are My Children? (1916) may have seemed progressive a century ago, but today it's most remarkable for the class-based assumptions director Lois Weber brought over from Margaret Sanger's work. Richard Walton (Tyrone Power Sr.), a respected district attorney, believes strongly in eugenics, a philosophy of human breeding that was fashionable at the time but would later inspire such practices as sterilization, forced abortion, and genocide. Walton is mounting a prosecution against a doctor for disseminating birth control literature, a felony at the time, but as the doctor testifies, relating awful stories of unwanted and poverty-stricken children, Walton comes to embrace contraception as a method of thinning the lower classes. Privately the attorney yearns for a child of his own, but his wife can't conceive; then, in a melodramatic twist, he discovers that she and her spoiled friends, eager to preserve their leisure-class lifestyle, have been secretly terminating their pregnancies with a local doctor. The ensuing censorship battle over Where Are My Children? had less to do with the forbidden subject matter than with the confused ideas surrounding it. Continue reading>>

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