After seventy two years of providing services to the community the Planned Parenthood in El Paso has been left with no choice but to shut down due to lack of funding. When the clinic first opened in 1937 Margaret Sanger made a trip to El Paso to deliver an opening speech in order to help draw funds to the clinic.
February 9th, 1938 Sanger wrote to Ms. Betty Goetting, the Chairman of the El Paso Mother’s Health Center (which would later become the El Paso Planned Parenthood). In this letter she commended the center:
“I am particularly proud of the fine work being done in El Paso and I feel that your group has much to offer to others interested in advancing the birth control cause in Texas.”
During the past year the clinic had improved the lives of many women in the area, serving over 600 patients! Some of the case histories featured in their yearly report included:
“Patient 27 years of age, married 8 years, 7 living children, husband W.P.A. Laborer. When patient came into Clinic her baby was two months of age. It is not ten months of age. This is the first time in her married life that she has gone so long without another pregnancy.“
“Patient 29 years in age, married 10 years, 8 pregnancies, 5 living children, 3 died at the age of a few months. Last baby was instrumental delivery. When patient first applied to Clinic she weighed 89 pounds; 7 months later she weighed 105 pounds and was greatly improved in health.“
Money has been a problem for the clinic since it first opened. On March 28th 1939 Ms. Betty Goetting said the following in a letter to Margaret Sanger:
“Our patients have increased beautifully with double the number this month already that we had last month. They are the very poor ones that we wish to reach but here again the mean problem of money, for these, many of them cannot pay one cent. We have depended on patients’ fees to pay our doctors. But when the few of us who really raise the money get discouraged, I remind them of you and how you managed to somehow get enough money to run things.“
Sanger made several trips out to visit the El Paso Clinic over the course of her activism, helping them to organize and using her influence to aid in raising money so that the clinic could remain open.
It truly is sad to see a clinic that has provided such wonderful services to so many people over the last century have to close down after seventy two years of being a valuable community resource.
All quotes from documents accessed through the MSPP’s Microfilm Files.
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