Women’s History Month: Birth control trailblazer was Hamilton’s own


Published October 4, 2019 at 8:49 pm

In honour of Women’s History Month, check out this amazing woman from Hamilton who helped to shape modern medical practice.

In honour of Women’s History Month, check out this amazing woman from Hamilton who helped to shape modern medical practice.

Hamilton’s own Elizabeth Bagshaw was a pioneer in women’s reproductive rights as she was among the first to advocate for birth control use in Canada.

Bagshaw trained at Women’s Medical College University of Toronto and came to Hamilton in the early 1920s to cover another doctor’s practice for a short time but ended up staying.

She became one of the most popular doctors in Hamilton over the next few years, signing more birth certificates than any other doctor in Hamilton at the time, according to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

Her efforts eventually led to the establishment in 1932 of the Birth Control Society of Hamilton, Canada’s first (illegal) birth control clinic. She served as the organization’s medical director until the 1960s. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the clinic became legal.

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31/100 of #freakinfantasticfemales A tomboy who relished riding cows and standing on horses' backs, #ElizabethBagshaw (1881-1982), went on to become a doctor and a crusader for birth control rights in #Canada. Dr. Bagshaw served as medical director of Canada's first – illegal – birth control clinic for more than 30 years. Eager to help women plan their families, she courageously accepted the unpaid position in 1932, despite strong objections to the facility from religious leaders. Though it was illegal to provide birth control in Canada until 1969, Dr. Bagshaw and her team of nurses and volunteers did just that! In recognition of her work, Elizabeth was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and was awarded the Governor General's Persons Award and the Order of Canada. To learn more about Elizabeth and other #coolcanadianwomen, check out #mernaforsters books #100canadianheroines and #100morecanadianheroines #ink #drawing #zine #art #artist #yyjarts #estherjparkerartist

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Her approach to care helped shape modern family medical practice as she believed it was a detriment to the country to go on having more children than one could afford, she provided information and education and championed the notion that women are in control of their reproductive destinies.

Dr. Bagshaw received the Order of Canada medal, was Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year in 1970. A public school in the city’s East End was named after her in 1979.

In 1979, Dr. Bagshaw was awarded the Governor General’s Persons Award for her efforts to advance the status of women in Canada.

The Hamilton Academy of Medicine established a guest lectureship in her name in 1981, shortly before her death on January 5, 1982.

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