Between 1872 and 1880 Comstock oversaw the arrest and conviction of fifty-five abortionists operating up and down the East Coast. He was physically beaten, spit upon, mocked and pursued, but the legislation that he had drafted for Congress was used to prosecute the likes of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and Julius Hammer, father of Armand and co-founder of the American Communist Party. Comstock saw contraception as the lynchpin of the other two vices and worked hard to prevent access to such abortifacients, with signal success.
As a fighter for public morals and defender of children, Anthony Comstock went up against organized crime syndicates, newspapers, politicians, law-enforcement, and those, like Mencken, who believed the Constitution protected obscenity and any other personal behavior that “was nobody’s business but their own.” The vices of Comstock’s day have metastasized, now with legal sanction and even approval from many in the Church, not to mention the public at large. Comstockery has become a term of derision and illegitimate interference in the libertine wantonness of popular culture. Nonetheless, one courageous Christian, one hundred forty years ago, took on the purveyors of vice, attracting others of like conviction to finance and help, and made a difference for a few years, to help stem the propagation of moral turpitude in a reprobate culture.