Birth control clinics branded ‘contrary to the laws of nature and immoral’

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On this day in 1926 Portsmouth Town Council voted to allow ante-natal clinics to provide information on birth control ‘in cases they consider warrant the giving of such information’.

The following week a letter from Marie Stopes, the family planning pioneer, campaigner for women’s rights and advocate of eugenics, appeared on the front page of the Portsmouth Times asking that such information be provided ‘to all mothers desiring it’.

The measure was strongly opposed by some councillors. Alderman Dr J Mulvany described contraception as ‘contrary to the laws of nature and immoral’.

Another argued that public money should not be spent ‘to instruct mothers how to evade the natural consequence of the sexual act’.

It was pointed out by Cllr Avens that ‘the educated class had free access to the advice which it was suggested should be denied to other people’ – from John Sadden’s Portsmouth Book of Days.

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