Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Born on this Day - in 1880 Conceiving Control
15 October 2017

Conceiving Control

Today, most of us take birth control for granted, with information and advice on sexual health and contraception widely available. However, less than 100 years ago this was not the case. In 1921, Marie Stopes, pictured, opened Britain’s first birth control clinic. Prior to this, birth control had not been considered necessary. Children often died, and couples often had lots of children in the hope that a few would survive. However, as hygiene and medicine improved, children began to live longer and attitudes changed. Stopes’ clinic offered advice on reproductive health and provided contraceptives such as spermicides and cervical caps. In 1925, the clinic relocated from north to central London, where it remains today. It is now head of the worldwide Marie Stopes International organisation. Beyond birth control, Stopes campaigned for women’s rights, and was the first female academic at the University of Manchester where she worked on plant fossils.

Written by Charlotte Rose Davison

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