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Archive for Saturday, February 9, 2013

40 years ago: Health department contraceptive policy at odds with federal grant requirements

February 9, 2013

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Feb. 9, 1973:

A series of articles in recent editions of the Journal-World focused on certain practices and policies of the Douglas County Health Department. Today, the article featured the prescription and dispensation of birth-control pills. Health department director Dr. Dale Clinton believed that "what our patients want is birth control pills" and objected even to the term "family planning" as a "semantic catch-all." Federally funded birth control programs at the time required doctors to offer a variety of contraceptive methods with explanation as well as taking a medical and reproductive history and performing breast, abdominal, and pelvic exams. However, in keeping with his approach, Dr. Clinton argued that "peripheral and unrelated" tests would be financially unfeasible. His prescriptive method included obtaining a complete medical history called a "pill questionnaire," showing his preference for prescribing pills as the most effective contraceptive method. Arguing against the "extra" examinations such as the Pap smear, Dr. Clinton said, "Should the health department provide these relatively expensive, time-consuming exams at public expense?" His no-exam policy had cost the department a $12,000 federal grant for family planning last fall; for 18 months the county program had been partly funded by voluntary patient donations.

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