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ImageHotel Paso del Norte (Camino Real El Paso Hotel)

photo source: Wikipedia

In February of 1937, Margaret Sanger was invited to speak at the Hotel Hilton in El Paso,Texas to celebrate the opening of the El Paso Mother’s Health Center (which would later become the El Paso Planned Parenthood). However, due to pressure from local Catholic groups, the event was moved to the Hotel Paso del Norte. The event was hosted by Health Center Chairman, Beth Mary Goetting and the Birth Control Clinic Committee.

Sanger spoke in front of some 350 El Pasoans including a number of local clergy and doctors. She expressed the hope that clinics would be established both on El Paso’s north and south sides. Clinic equipment and supplies were provided by the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau.

El Paso people are the first to take advantage of the December 7, United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that physicians might send contraceptives by mail – an act considered hitherto illegal…Now doctors need not fear a $500 fine, or five years in the penitentiary for administering a simple, scientific preventive to a woman who is not able to bear a child.

On February 9, 1938, Sanger wrote to Ms. Goetting commending 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.

From 1937 – 1938, the clinic served over 600 patients.  By the time of it’s closure in 2010, the clinic was serving more than 10,000 local women providing prenatal and postnatal information and healthcare including affordable HIV/AIDS testing.

The Hotel Paso del Norte is a historic hotel located less than one mile north from the United States-Mexico border. The hotel, designed by Trost & Trost, was opened in 1912. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the hotel was extensively remodeled in 2004 and renamed the Camino Real El Paso Hotel.

For more info on Planned Parenthood of El Paso: https://sangerpapers.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/planned-parenthood-of-el-paso/

For more info on the development of the birth control movement in Texas: https://sangerpapers.wordpress.com/tag/texas/

All quotes from documents accessed through the MSPP’s Microfilm Files.

Click here for our map of Sanger’s travels.