19 MAY 1923, Page 11


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—May I add a few words to the statement of Mr. Fuller in your issue of April 21st with regard to the East Street Welfare Centre ? As he states, this Centre, in addition to the ordinary work of a Welfare Centre, aims at preventing unnecessary human misery by teaching married women of the poorest classes how to limit their families. The need for this teaching can be inferred from the record of cases of the women attending the Centre. For example, Mrs. M. B., age 40, has had eight children and four miscarriages in thirteen years ; Mrs. T. P. has had nine children in twelve years, of whom three are dead ; Mrs. A. M., whose husband has been twice confined in a lunatic asylum, has had four children and two miscarriages ; Mrs. A. W. is an epileptic ; she has had four children, of whom three have died of epilepsy. And so on I No one can honestly say that any public or private purpose is served by compelling these women to go through the anxieties and pains of maternity to produce children whom they have not the means to support in comfort, and who may be diseased through life, or may die in infancy.

But if these poor wives are to limit their families, as the families of richer women are limited, it is necessary that they should be taught how to do so. This work is done at 158A East Street, Walworth Road, S.E., 17, by a qualified medical man, who gives his services gratuitously, and is aided by a trained nurse. The work thus done not only prevents unneces- sary suffering and sorrow to the individual wives and husbands, but it is of national importance, for the children born under such conditions as prevail in the slums of Walworth have but little chance of growing up to be strong men and women. It is from such slums as these that our C8 population springs.

Apart from the very small payments these poor women can afford to make, the Centre is entirely supported by voluntary contributions. The country pays many millions annually to meet the expenditure of the Ministry of Health, but that Ministry declines to give any help to a movement which sets out to improve the health of the nation by preventing the propagation of poverty and disease. The Hon. Secretary is Captain Henderson-Livesey, 170 Palace Chambers, S.W. 1, and I have the privilege of acting as Honorary Treasurer.— 6 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn, W.C.

[We are not going to reargue the question of Birth Control, nor shall we dwell upon the appalling dangers of breeding freely from the less good stock and breeding restrictively from the better. We do, however, want to ask those who are horrified at the idea of teaching the poorer portion of the population in the way Mr. Cox describes to consider the alternatives. The alternatives are, in thousands upon thousands of cases, abortion and automatic infanticide. Think of the children who die

solely because their parents are unable to give them the chance to live. " Yes, I lost four. If I hadn't I don't know what would have happened to us in this small house, and work so scarce." No one who knows the poor can have failed to hear such things said. Abortion is an even darker side. Ask any doctor or nurse with a working-class practice his or her experiences in this matter. The answers will be a revelation. It is largely because we dread so greatly the spread of abortion and automatic infanticide that we hold Birth Control to be a question which cannot be put aside as " too disagreeable " to be spoken about or thought about.—En. Spectator.]