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"Go into a cheerless cottage bare of furniture and full of little children. Look into the distressed eyes of the mother who says, "Yes, when I left the hospital the last time, the Doctor warned me: "Now, no more children. We've brought you through this time, but your heart won't stand another labour." But he didn't tell me where to go or what to do and I am so afraid of having to leave my children."

"Talk to a hollow-eyed looking woman at the Clinic who says apologetically "I used to be so strong, but my husband has been out of work for two years and to keep off relief I've taken in washing. We have six children. The day the last baby came I did two washes and tried to clean up the house. The baby came at 8 o'clock that night and I've never seemed to get well again. "

"Stand by the bedside of a young girl scarcely 20 - a baby of 16 months in a clothes basket beside her bed. She has spinal paralysis and has never walked since the baby came but is expecting another in a few days."

These are the words of Mary Elizabeth Hawkins.

In 1932, this young widow and mother of two children opened Canada's first, and now longest running birth control clinic in Hamilton, Ontario. It was her mission to help married women who yearned to be spared the birth of additional children.

Mary Hawkins and Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw operated that clinic every Friday afternoon for over 31 years during which time the dissemination of birth control was illegal in Canada. As Medical Director Dr. Bagshaw staffed the clinic, counseling patients who had been referred by sympathetic doctors. She was Hamilton's Citizen of the Year in 1970 and won the Governor General's Person's Award in 1979. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1973. She died in January of 1982 at the age of 100 years.

Today, Planned Parenthood continues to be a non-profit, charitable organization, with membership in the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the second largest international voluntary organization in the world.

Planned Parenthood of Hamilton is a volunteer based organization dedicated to creating a community where responsible and healthy sexual behaviour is practiced and supported.

 

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