A world in which every birth is wanted children by choice, not chance

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MSI HISTORY

Marie Stopes International History:

The way we provide contraception and safe abortion services has been shared to a large extent, by our history- and the lives of two pioneers of the family planning movement. Dr. Marie Stopes and Dr. Tim Black. Both built reputations for their client-centred approach and their willingness to push boundaries- qualities that are central to how we work today. 

Dr. Marie Stopes 

Dr. Marie Stopes was born in 1880 in Edinburgh in Scotland, and although a pioneer in providing family planning services, she wasn't a medical community at the time. 

Her first marriage was annulled after five years on the grounds of non-communication, and it was this that prompted her interest in female sexuality. She recognized that if she, as a university educated middle-class woman, could lack all knowledge of sexual issues, then poor, less educated women must be even worse off. This realization prompted her pioneering crusade. 

She opened her first family planning clinic, with her second husband Humphrey Roe, in 1921 and was attacked by the medical establishment for being female, not medically qualified and for employing nursed rather than doctors to consult wit most of her clients. 

Marie Stopes and her husband set out to prove that a small team in simple, clean surroundings could provide services to poor women-which they duly did. Her first clinic was based in Hollway in north London, before it moved to its current location at 108 Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia in Central London. She chose to move her clinic to the area because of its relative social deprivation at the time and it continues to be our spiritual home. The London support office is based just two streets from the original center, now known as Marie Stopes House. 

As well as setting up the UK's first static family planning center, Marie Stopes also pioneered the concept of mobile outreach. She adapted a horse-drawn caravan and took it into the communities she was trying to reach. Her endeavors proved successful and she gradually built up a small network of clinics across the UK. 

We remember Marie Stopes for her pioneering work in providing contraception to undeserved women, and this lives on today bearing her name, in our current organization founded by Dr. Tim Black. 

Dr. Tim Black

In the late 1960s, Tim Black was working as a district health officer in the Sepik district of New Guinea, and it was around that time that he began to reassess his focus on trying to cure or save livers as a matter of course. 

After saving the life of a three-month old girl, he was shocked that her widowed mother-who already had five children and no steady income- didn't want her to survive. 

"My shock was absolute. My immediate reaction was one of utter indignation. The gulf separating my life experience and that if this poor woman was complete. She has wanted the baby to die-not love- during the operation. 

"I suddenly realized that I had presented her, not only with her baby, but with another mouth to feed, another dependent human being to whom she could offer nothing: no father, no education, no future. 

"It was at that point that I began to realize tat preventing a birth could be as important as saving a life."

Tim decided then to switch his career from one of 'death control' to 'birth control'.

In 1969, he was awarded fellowships to study fro a Masters at the Population Center at the University of North Carolina, USA. While in the states, he met Phil Harvey and in 1970, they co-founded Population Services International (PSI).

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