Saturday, October 18, 2008

Marie Stopes

It appears that the Royal Mail has come under fire for issuing a stamp with the image of Marie Stopes.

Stopes was the first woman in Britain to open a family planning clinic back in 1921. But that is not the reason for the uproar - it would appear that Stopes' other sympathies may have lain elsewhere.

According to the Telegraph:
"To her supporters Stopes, who has a sexual health charity now working in 40 countries named after her, helped liberate women and transform society with her campaigning in favour of family planning.

But Stopes, who died in 1958, was also a supporter of eugenics, the pseudo-scientific theories which promoted sterilisation of diseased or weak people to "perfect" the race, which was openly promoted by the Nazis in Germany.

She is also said to have been a supporter of Adolf Hitler, even sending a book of her poems to the Nazi dictator on the eve of the Second World War, enclosed with a warm letter declaring: "Dear Herr Hitler, Love is the greatest thing in the world."

In 1935 she attended a conference in Berlin to promote "population science". She openly advocated sterilisation of those deemed "unfit for parenthood" including those who were ill or suffered alcohol problems as early as 1919. She called for this to be compulsory in her book Radiant Motherhood."

But the Royal Mail has stood by its decision, saying that: "These stamps commemorate six unique individuals whose dedicated work not only changed the lives of other women, but society as a whole."

Others honoured include the Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle, for her work promoting equal pay, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first British woman to qualify as a doctor, and her sister the women's rights campaigner Millicent Garrett Fawcett.


1 comment:

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