Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marie Stopes International


Been away with family in the USA, and did not take my computer, so was “off air” for a couple of weeks. Canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and telling bedtime stories to grandchildren makes a nice change.

After wading through the usual stack of emails and dumping the obvious rubbish I found one that at first looked interesting. It appeared to come from the Mary Stopes International folks, who are so well known for their world-wide work in the women’s health field, and especially in the area of reproductive choice. The have expanded their activities and now offer services as Sexual Health Specialists with tabs on the web site for women, for men, and for young people.

The remarkable Scottish woman for whom the organization is named was educated as a palaeobotanist and had a remarkable academic career in the early part of the 20th century, earning a PhD in 1907, when women had a tough time breaking into the male dominated world of science. According to Wikipedia (where this photo of her in her lab in 1904 appears) she edited journal Birth Control News which gave anatomically explicit advice and it is for her work on family planning that she remembered.

The “reply to” address on the email header was in Hong Kong, and the message mentioned Mary Stopes Canada. Something made me hesitate before replying, although I have seen Stopes clinics in many countries and admire their work. In countries like Uganda they are a vital refuge for many women. A check on Google gave me no hits for a Canadian leg of the organization. I penned an email to the head office, and soon got a reply. My instincts had been right. The thing was a scam. I hope nobody got caught.

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