1921 March 17

Dr. Marie Stopes Opens First Birth Control Clinic in England


Dr. Marie Carmichael Stopes was a pioneer in the birth control movement. She opened the first birth control clinic in England on this day. The clinic was run by midwives and visiting physicians, who offered women advice on birth control. Stopes had several run-ins with American law over her books. Her book, Married Love, was barred from entering the U.S. by the Customs Bureau because its discussion of sex was considered obscene.

Federal Judge John M. Woolsey overturned the ban on April 6, 1931. She was also the author of Contraception, which was also barred by the Customs Bureau. Judge Woolsey overturned a ban on that book on July 18, 1931. (Judge Woolsey is most famous for ending the Customs Bureau ban on James Joyce’s acclaimed novel, Ulysses, on December 6, 1933).

Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. on October 16, 1916, for which she was arrested and eventually served a month in jail.

Marie Stopes: “In my first marriage I paid such a terrible price for sex-ignorance that I feel that knowledge gained at such a cost should be placed at the service of humanity.”

Visit the Marie Stopes International (UK) web site: http://www.mariestopes.org.uk/

Read: Marie Stopes, Married Love (1918)

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