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Grace Carlson

Best Medical Care Given Fala’s Pups
While Infants of Poor Suffer Neglect

(24 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 12, 24 March 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by
Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“Fala is the father of twins.” Dr. Thomas Sheldon, veterinary, announced today that twin daughters were born on March 9 at the Sheldon Canine Hospital to President Roosevelt’s famed Scottie and Buttons, owned by Miss Margaret Suckley of Hyde Park.

“Fala’s daughters, named Meggy and Peggy, were sent home with their mother yesterday,” Dr. Sheldon said.”

So ran a March 13 Associated Press report from Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Now, I do not think all the troubles of this country are due to the fact that F.D.R.’s dog, and his dog’s “bride” receive expensive medical care. I should not want to force the young Mrs. Fala to go through the ordeal of motherhood, alone and unaided!

But I wonder what a visitor from Mars would have thought if he had read in the same paper which carried the news of Mrs. Fala’s successful delivery at Sheldon Canine Hospital, the report from the U.S. Children’s Bureau about inadequate hospital facilities for human mothers?

Very likely, the citizen from Mars would have decided that the members of the human race are crazy and taken the first rocket ship back home!

Rich – and Poor

Public health authorities have long known there are hundreds of thousands of American mothers and their newborn infants who do not receive proper medical and hospital treatment. Census reports show that only 73 percent of white women are delivered in hospitals. Far more shameful – only 29 percent of Negro women receive this type of care.

These 27 percent of white maternity cases and 71 percent of Negro maternity cases who do not receive hospitalization represent poor mothers – mothers of the working-class. When babies are born to the rich, their mothers receive elaborate obstetrical and hospital treatment – even more impressive than the maternity care given their dogs.

But with the wartime shifts of population and crowded living conditions in the large mass-production centers, the problem of working-class women needing maternity care has become still more serious. Dr. Martha M. Eliot, associate chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, spoke about this in a press dispatch published in the March 13 N.Y. Times.

“Facilities for hospitalization of maternity cases are seriously inadequate and in some places totally lacking,” said Dr. Elliot. “Effort to accommodate the women in hospitals has meant crowding for the mothers and in many situations such serious crowding for the newborn infants in the hospital nurseries that many lives have been endangered and too many have been lost.”

Preventable Deaths

Dr. Eliot pointed out that maternity homes of four, six or eight beds, which have been set up for desperate mothers-to-be, often do not meet what health authorities regard as proper medical standards. This is true even of many regular hospitals. “Some small hospitals have no special maternity unit,” Dr. Eliot reported, “but use the operating room as a delivery room, or as the nursery, with all the attendant risks of infection of the mother or infant that this implies.”

So to the already large number of preventable deaths of mothers and newborn infants which occurred in pre-war America will now be added this wartime toll! It had been estimated previously by medical men that almost two-thirds of the deaths of mothers in childbirth and close to one-half of the deaths of newborn infants were due to a lack of proper medical and hospital treatment. In round figures, this means that nearly 100,000 lives could have been saved every year if this society had only been willing to spend the money needed.

But statistics are cold and impersonal. What do maternal and infant deaths mean in terms of human values?

The death of a working-class mother in childbirth. Tragedy in the home – improper care for the new baby and the other young children. Very often, the necessity for breaking up the home because the hard-pressed father finds it impossible to carry the double burden. Then separation of the children – boarding-homes or orphan asylums. This all-too- familiar story has been heard thousands of times in the courtrooms where so-called juvenile delinquents are tried.

Fala Is Fine

And the death of a newborn infant! Who can look upon a dead baby without bowing his head before the tragedy of a human being that never had a chance?

100,000 deaths of mothers and newborn babies could be prevented every year!


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