Sexual Behaviour in Canada: Patterns and Problems

By Benjamin Schlesinger | Go to book overview

Family planning and 'the poor'*

KATHLEEN BELANGER

To continue to believe and perpetuate the myth supported by many writers and family planning 'experts,' that proliferation of family planning clinics will entice 'The Poor' to limit their families so that a salubrious intervention in the poverty cycle will occur, is to minimize and oversimplify seriously the facts of poverty, to misunderstand its causes, results and inevitably related and pervasive life style, and to discredit poor people themselves on the basis of wrong information.

Two of the most glaring pieces of wrong information on which service planning continues to be based are, first, that poor people have more children than other people, and second, that they would rush automatically through the doors of family planning clinics if only the proper public relations and 'outreach' techniques could be devised to encourage them.

The value judgments implicit in this generally accepted piece of misinformation have served to obscure and, in a sense, deny the facts of poverty and its roots and have resulted in the continuation and spread not only of family planning clinics, but other health and social services subliminally wrought to meet the needs of the middle-class patient and the views of the middle-class professional.

The first phase of a medical-social study of women attending Vancouver family planning clinics and a control group not attending revealed that poor people do not go to family planning clinics. The last phase of the study revealed that they do not want to go.

At the time of the study, the population served by the clinics (a trend which has since increased) was mainly upper-middle class. Most of the patients turned

____________________
*
Reprinted from The Social Worker 42 ( Summer 1974), 15-20.

-59-

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