On January 9, 1927, a group of reform-minded citizens gathered in the Narberth home of Dr. George A. Sloan for the first official meeting of the Pennsylvania Birth Control Federation. The members elected Dr. Stuart Mudd as president, and formulated three main objectives: legislative reform, the establishment of clinics, and education of the public. Two years later, in 1929, the Federation opened a birth control clinic—the Maternal Health Center—in Upper Darby. During its first year, 150 patients were met at the clinic by a sympathetic physician, an Acting-Nurse, Emily Mudd—who, herself pregnant, discerningly provided the solution to the lack of nurses willing to risk arrest working at the clinic, by discovering an obscure law prohibiting the incarceration of pregnant women—and the Board of Directors themselves, who were there during the Center’s working hours, so that in the event of a police raid, all might go to jail together.
When the clinic was moved to 253 South 15th Street, in 1933, its functions were expanded: in addition to helping patients with their reproductive health and contraceptive needs, clinic physicians also used it as a training center for physicians. By the following year, there were eight clinics in the Philadelphia area. Patients receiving contraceptive advice at these clinics were asked to pay a small fee; since payment was not always possible, fundraising was a primary activity of Board members, and donations were the major source of income. Such fundraising campaigns were continued on a more ambitious scale when, in 1947, the Pennsylvania Birth Control Federation changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Association, and conformed to the national organization with which it was now affiliated.
More changes followed: the clinic moved to 2004 Walnut Street in 1956, and added premarital and marriage counseling, additional training programs for nurses and physicians, and an infertility counseling service. The locale of Planned Parenthood continued to upgrade—moving to larger quarters at 1402 Spruce Street in 1969, to 1220 Sansom Street in 1975, and finally to 1144 Locust Street in 1988—and each move was accompanied by an expansion of services: a vasectomy clinic, a teen program, and 859 educational programs were added in 1971, succeeded by cancer screening services, and early pregnancy termination in 1975.
On July 1, 2009, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania merged with Planned Parenthood of Chester County. The decision by the PPCC and PPSP Boards to merge reflected a belief that a new consolidated entity would reduce duplication of efforts; enhance the ability to attract and retain skilled staff; and utilize resources, both human and financial, to serve the community more efficiently and effectively.
In the years since the Maternal Health Center opened in 1929, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania now has grown to 17 health centers serving over 62,000 patients, 13,000 education clients and 25,000 advocates in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. Its mission—to protect and enhance reproductive freedom, to increase access to reproductive health services and information, and to promote sexual health—corresponds closely with the objectives of the original Pennsylvania Birth Control Federation.