Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Who was Marie Stopes?

Born Edinburgh 15 October 1880, Marie Stopes was a palaeobotanist. Although she is sometimes called Dr Stopes she was not a medical doctor, a fact she  apparently hated to have pointed out. She was educated at University College London and in the University of Munich. A prominent campaigner for the eugenic policies that found their full expression in Nazi racial ideology, she took part in the International Congress for Population Science held in Berlin in 1935. In August 1939, just a month before Britain went to war, Stopes sent a collection of her poems to the Nazi leader saying: 

"Dear Herr Hitler, Love is the greatest thing in the world: so will you accept from me these (poems) that you may allow the young people of your nation to have them?"

In "Radiant Motherhood" (1920) Stopes called for the "sterilization of those totally unfit for parenthood to be made…compulsory." In "The Control of Parenthood" (1920) she said that "utopia could be reached in my life time" if she had power to "legislate compulsory sterilisation" of the insane, "feebleminded", "revolutionaries" and "half-castes." 

Marie Stopes opened the UK's first birth control centre, the Mothers' Clinic, at Marlborough Road in London, 17 March 1921. In 1925, it moved to Whitfield Street in central London, where it remains today. Now named ‘Marie Stopes House’ it is the  flagship clinic of Marie Stopes International (MSI). 

Following her death, 2 October 1958, a large part of Stopes' personal fortune went to the Eugenics Society. This included the Whitfield Street property which she left on condition that it continued as a birth control centre. It is the doorway of this building which is represented in the Marie Stopes International (MSI) logo. Like the logo, MSI’s eugenic agenda may not always be immediately obvious but it is always present.

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