Press enter after choosing selection

Planned Parenthood Clinic Serving More

Planned Parenthood Clinic Serving More image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

About 225 women have been introduced to family planning methods and supplies by Washtenaw County's Planned Parenthood Clinic in the past 12 months. Two of them already had borne 16 children. The average individual was 28 years old, had completed 10 years of school and had three children. Th is "composite" iamily was supported by an average take-home pay of $48 a week. Although they total a small percentage of the 2,000-plus "active" patients in the clinic's liles, that salary dubs them representative of Planned Parenthood's new thrust into low income neighborhoods. The 225 were recruited for the program this year by volunteers paid for by an Office of Economie Opportunity g r a n t. "Only 30 of these had even been previously receiving Aid to Dependent Children," Richard Fennessy, OEO Program Director for Planned Parenthood here said, "indicating the program is truly reaching the medically indigent." The Washtenaw C o u n t y Flanned Parenthood League, established in 1932, is the second oldest in Michigan. lts services were rendered by volunteers and financed by local contributions for many years. In 1964 a paid staff of three was added, and funds were received for research from pharmaceutical companies. The OEO grant of $32,515 enabled the staff to seek out the new low-income patients. With the federal b a c k i n g, Richard Fennessy employed a part-time staff of nine neighborhood workers. These contacts, women "well known and well liked in their communities," recruited the 225 patients, as well as contacting 1,149 homes in all and distributing 2,500 units of literature. They also provided transportation for the' mothers and arranged babysitters. In reaching the dwellers of indigent neighborhoods, family planners are reverting to the goals of an early crusader. Fennessy traces the movement to Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse working in the lower east side of New York. Feeling strongly that bad conditions there resulted from couples having more children than they could pro vide for, s h e opened a clinic in 1916 to distribute information on birth control. "Such literature was lumped with pornography, its circulation was illegal under the Comstock laws. She was jailed more than once for passing out information and supplies," Fennessy said. "Her principie was that the upper and even middle classes had access to the information, yet the lower socio - economie level which needed it most had no way of knowing about it," hc continued. Since 1960, concerned individuals have been redirecting their efforts toward the lower income groups; birth control methodsl won public confidence with the patent of pills, and "planned parenthood" carne of age this decade. Referring to the 225 now patients, Fennessy pointed out that the official guidelines of OEO define a low-income family as four persons supported by $3,000 per year. An additional $500 is added or subtracted for each child over or under that base. A walk-in clinic is also held at 38'2 E. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti on Monday and Wednesday evenings. The clinic in Ann Arbor, at 122V2 E. Liberty, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays for supplies and information. A doctor, nurse, and nurse's aid are there 7:30 to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday by appointment. All who receive contraceptives must be first given a medical examination. Any woman over 21, married or unmarried, is eligible for whatever birth control method she prefers. Most choose pills. Unmarried women under that age who have had a pregnancy or who are getting married within 90 days, or who have parental permission, are also eligible. Judment of the clinic physician is the final determinant. A directive from the Washington office of Economie Opportunity had specified that federal funds were not to be used to supply birth control devices to unmarried women below legal age. In November, 1966, however, Sen. Joseph Clark, D-Pa., amended a bilí so that it placed such distribution at the option of the local OEO board. "O u r primary purposes," Fennessy emphasized, "are to be sure that every woman in the county knows the availability of contraceptive methods in the clinics, so that she may use them if she so desires. He estimated five million women of lower socio-economic levéis in the United States are unable to pay for these medical m. tv 'f. fê services. Because of their lack I of awaremss, family planning I principies ae only reaching I tenth of thosi that needed themjl lie said. The Washteiaw C o u n t y I League for Plan,ed Parenthoodl is one of only ab,ut 150 acrossi the United States, but many ofl these affihates, such as Detroit I have more thai one clinic. Femessy is th new adminis-l trativi assistant n charge ofl the program plauing for the Detroit Planne 1 hood. His position as roject di-fl rector for the Washtenc,, Coun-H ty League has been fij YiyM Robert Benedict of East ans.B ing. The work of Planned Parefl hood involves not only medii cally directed child spacing,! but pre - marital counseling! and advice for childless couples 1 as well. Fees are determined upon an ability to pay, and no one is refused help for inability to pay. The required medical examination also serves as a safe-guard for early detection and referral for cáncer. In Margaret Sanger's era, family planning had a r o u g h childhood. Now it seems to be noming of age.