The following is the letter of resignation of the former Information and Education Co-ordinator for the Family Planning Federation of Canada. She resigned her position feeling that she could no longer support the anti-working class nature of the federation’s policies. The letter came to ”THE WORKER” via the staff of “THE UNCERTIFIED HUMAN”.
It should come as no surprise to you that there are certain goals of the Federation with which I cannot lend my support.
Through various themes such as “Can you afford to have another child” the Federation insinuates that children are an undesirable burden for poor people thereby creating an arbitrary priority group for family planning motivational propaganda. Generally called “the less well informed” they are lumped together under the multipurpose blanket phrase “lower socio-economic groups”. Often they are cited in scapegoat fashion as being those in most need. Isn’t this a long way from the stated goal of the campaign – namely to inform Canadians of their newly given right to family planning information. Do you mean that they are most in need because we think they need to practice family planning or because they are ignorant of even one reliable method of contraception and where to get it. The issue now becomes motivation vs. coercion and the question is this: Is a couple earning $6,000 per year equally entitled to have the number of children they want (whether it be 2 or 6) as a couple earning $15,000 per year? If the answer is yes then why all the emphasis on their being in the greatest need when statistics support the fact that unplanned pregnancies are common to all classes and ignorance of family planning methods equally prevalent throughout society.
Through the skill of marketing experts motivational techniques are being used to “sell” family planning to the public. If you think sell is too strong a term or perhaps inaccurate consider the following. The campaign was developed by marketing experts.
I believe that family planning information should be made available to all who want it, that it should be made known where and from whom it is available, that people should be encouraged to understand their reproductive physiology and thereby how to control it, and that people should be encouraged to take responsibility to prevent conception if they do not wish to have a child.
The Federation has gone beyond these stated objectives, and is now committed to the course described on the following pages.
Although this was played down carefully not giving a “full dress” presentation to the Board for its approval of the campaign you have hinted that you did a very clever selling job of the campaign to them. Then I was hired, no doubt on the weight of my marketing and sales background. The campaign has adhered so well to marketing criteria that it received a marketing award. Finally it is being evaluated by Canadian Facts, a marketing research company. There is no doubt that selling techniques are being employed. (Obviously I have no objection to making it known where and from whom family planning information is available. This I have already stated.) However, it is analogous to inducing a man to buy life insurance to be a better husband to connecting the ability to be good parents to financial security. Many excellent parents cannot provide material assets such as what you might consider proper food and clothing. These same parents do raise happy, well adjusted children. You are justifiably criticized then for imposing your materialistic values on others if you equate being a good parent with ability to provide material goods.
You also indicate that it is no longer “in” to have large families. Surely this is the selling tactic in this commercial: “They aren’t making families like they used to.”
In each poster people are directed to an “expert” for direction in selecting a method. By introducing the notion that family planning needs to be treated as a medical problem you are falling into another trap. Statistics Canada indicates that one half the women of child bearing age in Canada are already practising a method of contraception without the supervision of a doctor. People are intelligent enough to grasp the meaning of the reproductive process and understand how to control it. It may take longer but understanding is the best form of motivation.
While you promote many reliable methods of contraception such as the pill and the I.U.D. as well as some of the less reliable methods such as foam, you blatantly ignore the value of other reliable methods such as the symptom-thermal method and the Billings method. This does not enhance your image in Canada, but rather points out your preference for quick and easily taught methods which require lower levels of motivation and which are therefore easier to administer to large populations of uneducated people. If you doubt this, consider why sterilization camps are set up in overpopulated, underdeveloped countries.
Consider why so much money goes into the development of “one-shot” methods such as the I.U.D. or once yearly chemical methods. You might also consider here why new methods are studied in the underdeveloped countries to see if they are safe before doing a token testing here in Canada. The copper T and Prostaglandins are a good example of this.
Getting back to the methods you ignore I feel that you really reveal your bias here. The Billings and sympto-thermal methods are given credit in many leading family planning manuals. These are not new, high-risk methods but tested and reliable methods which rank in effectiveness with the pill and the I.U.D., according to statements from both the IPPF and PP-WP. All methods to be effective must be used consistently yet you have arbitrarily, chosen to discredit these methods on the grounds that they call for greater motivation and are less reliable. The first ground is a value judgment which is not yours to make since you are charged with the responsibility of providing information on all methods of family planning. The second ground is completely false, a fact which you will learn when you do your homework.
However, not only do you not carry information for the public on these methods but you give misinformation (by due process of a Board decision I am told). In ”Birth Control that Works” you lump all the natural methods together under the incorrect heading “rhythm” and place it on the page entitled “WARNING”. By this you give misinformation to those who put their trust in you to give impartial expert advice.
Attempts I have personally made to introduce the natural methods have been met with hostility and prejudice.
Once again the Federation has gone beyond family planning this time by devoting time and energy to abortion. A controversial issue though it is the Federation has chosen to become known as a supporter of more liberal abortion laws. In spite of the carefully worded whereas clauses in the resolution, it is abundantly clear that the Federation regards abortion as acceptable means of reducing the numbers of unwanted babies and therefore as an acceptable back up method of birth control. One is either in favour of or against abortion. However, if one pretends to be fence-sitting or still considering the matter one does not pass resolutions to remove all mention of abortion from the Criminal Code – Instead of encouraging individual responsibility in family planning matters, the Federation is trying to legislate a reduction in the number of unwanted babies knowing that women with unwanted pregnancies will take the easiest way out.
However the number of repeat abortions indicates that this is not the solution to preventing unwanted babies.
After considering the matter for several months, I can only conclude that the Federation is not concerned with the voluntary principle of family planning . . . “that family planning should be a decision of each individual in consultation with his or her partner” as George Cadbury expresses it. Rather family planning has developed beyond this. Some see voluntary family planning as only a “stop gap” until it can be legislated by means of negative tax incentives, repeal of family allowances or stronger measures. In fact I recall I believe, that Marion Powell recently confided that George Cadbury is kidding himself if he thinks that people can be motivated to control their own fertility.
If you would deny your interest in legislating a less than voluntary family planning program why then the present lobby for a population council whose function it would be to produce a population policy for Canada.
Your desire for a Canadian family planning policy with demographic implications is clear. You have already shown your concern over the increased family allowance program.
Family planning has become so far removed from the individual bedroom that consideration of a person’s rights and preferences have been totally overlooked. I would ask you to re-think what YOUR motives are and keep your goals in line with what will give the individual Canadian the greatest personal freedom and dignity.
If this means the choice between a crowded city where life is respected and children welcomed as a blessing bringing new hope to society I would opt for that over the alternative of a less crowded environment where children are only welcomed if society feels it can afford them and where they are otherwise seen as a burden.
You can imagine that it is not an easy decision to give up a lucrative position with the possibility of influencing the nursing profession. However, I can no longer work for the ideals that I can see that you stand for. I have held my peace in your organization for several months weighing the case. I hope that you will consider this as the views of one who supports family planning, with the emphasis on family, and who once supported your organization but whom you turned away because of your ideology ....
The above is more evidence of the reactionary potential of the movement for free abortion and the wrong-headedness of some birth control programmes. The ruling class is all too ready to use both as weapons with which to attack and oppress workers. While no communist would oppose the distribution of sound medical advice on the subject of birth control, we must expose and oppose the slant that is put forward on the subject by most “social agencies” . . . The writer, who is a trained nurse, has established beyond doubt that there is a class bias to the existing programmes. According to the Family Planning Federation of Canada workers should be discouraged from having children. Some agencies, like Toronto’s Birth Control and V.D. Information Centre, take the theory one step further by adding racism. This outfit prides itself as giving special attention and counseling to the women of the immigrant community! Funny how people who want to limit population first try to “help” blacks, Italians, and working class people. “Never mind the ruling class” is their policy – let them have all the kids they want.