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Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 
90th Anniversary 


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Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 1918-2018



The Birth Control League of Massachusetts is founded with Blanche Ames Ames serving as its first president. This organization, a precursor to Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM), works to relax restrictions on birth control information and services.


The Birth Control League of Massachusetts votes to disband due to the failure of its four-year long effort to make birth control a public issue.


Margaret Sanger founds the American Birth Control League.


The Birth Control League of Massachusetts is founded again.    


The Birth Control League of Massachusetts opens its first office on Joy Street in Boston to promote “rational parenthood.”


The Birth Control League of Massachusetts opens its first clinic in Brookline. In five years, it opens additional clinics in Springfield, Worcester, Boston, New Bedford, Fitchburg, and Salem. 


Several clinics are raided, and the Salem clinic staff members are convicted of violating the 1879 law that prohibits the selling or giving away of contraceptives. All of the clinics are closed.


The Birth Control League of Massachusetts changes its name to Massachusetts Mothers’ Health Council.


The American Birth Control League becomes the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


The Massachusetts Mothers’ Health Council places Question One on the ballot to relax birth control restrictions.The ballot measure is defeated, with 58% of the electorate voting against birth control access.     



The Massachusetts Mothers’ Health Council changes its name to the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.    


PPLM initiates another referendum question, which voters again reject by a margin of 58% to 42%.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the first birth control pill, but birth control use is still illegal in Massachusetts.


In Griswold v. Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a state’s ban on the use of contraceptives violates the right of privacy and could not be enforced against married people


In response to the Griswold decision, Massachusetts liberalizes its birth control laws to allow the sale of contraceptives to married people but only with a medical prescription. The sale of birth control to unmarried people remains illegal.


The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Eisenstadt v. Baird that the Massachusetts law limiting contraceptives to married people is discriminatory and violates the right of privacy of unmarried people.


On January 22, in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that laws against abortion in the United States violate the constitutional right of privacy guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.


PPLM creates the Counseling and Referral (C&R) hotline staffed with volunteer counselors who respond to inquiries about contraception, pregnancy options, and sexual health issues.


Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to enact legislation requiring parental consent for an abortion. In order to obtain an abortion, an unmarried woman under the age of 18 must have the consent of both of her parents, or she may obtain a court order in lieu of her parents’ consent.


On December 1, PPLM opens its first health center in rented space on Main Street in Worcester. 


On September 24, PPLM opens the Greater Boston Health Center in Brookline.


PPLM begins to offer comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education in schools and community settings. In 1991, PPLM develops Heart 2 Heart, a high-school based teen pregnancy and AIDS prevention program.


PPLM’s advocacy helps pass the Clinic Access Law, the first legislation to expand abortion access ever passed in this state. The law makes it illegal for protesters to blockade clinic doors, a popular protest technique.


PPLM purchases a building on Lincoln Street in Worcester and moves its health center from its Main Street location.  


PPLM creates Positive Transitions for middle school students and HIP (an HIV Infection Program) for adult women and adolescents struggling with homelessness and substance abuse.


On December 30, 1994, a gunman enters the front doors of PPLM’s Brookline health center and murders staff member Shannon Lowney and critically wounds three others. He then attacks another nearby reproductive health center, Preterm Health Services, killing staff member LeeAnn Nichols and injuring two more victims.


PPLM and Preterm Health Services merge.


PPLM’s new Boston health center opens at 1055 Commonwealth Avenue, bringing health services and PPLM’s statewide headquarters together in one building.


The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that a minor needs to obtain the consent of only one parent to have an abortion.


PPLM opens the Western Massachusetts Health Center in Springfield.


The Massachusetts legislature enacts and Governor Paul Cellucci signs a buffer zone law. The law mandates 6-foot floating buffer zones around patients who are within an 18-foot radius of entrances to health centers where abortions are performed.


Massachusetts’ new Contraceptive Coverage Equity law requires that health insurance plans include coverage of prescription contraceptives.


Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in collaboration with PPLM, is awarded the country’s 11th Family Planning Fellowship. The Family Planning Fellowship program is a nationwide, privately funded training program for OB/GYNs to receive subspecialty clinical training in abortion and contraception care and training in clinical research methods. 


PPLM helps end targeted residential picketing by abortion opponents in Brookline, home to several of PPLM’s physicians.


Massachusetts’ state legislature approves an Emergency Contraception (EC) law, mandating that all emergency rooms in the state inform sexual assault survivors about EC and provide it upon request.


PPLM launches Let’s Be Honest, its parent education program. PPLM also develops and launches Get Real, a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for middle school and high school students.


PPLM establishes its clinical research department.


On February 22, PPLM opens Plan: A Planned Parenthood Express Center in Davis Square, Somerville to provide patients with convenient access to a limited number of Planned Parenthood’s services including birth control, emergency contraception, and screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.


PPLM is one of the first Planned Parenthood affiliates in the country to fully implement electronic health records.


Massachusetts state legislature approves measures to strengthen the state’s buffer zone law.  The new law is the strongest law of its kind in the country.  However, the law is immediately challenged in federal court on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.


PPLM builds a new environmentally friendly health center on Pleasant Street in Worcester.


PPLM secures the Title X contract for the central Massachusetts region, and opens health care centers in Fitchburg, Marlborough, and Milford in 2010.


PPLM introduces Seamos Honestos, the Spanish version of Let’s Be Honest.


PPLM pilots Get Real Teen Council, a peer education program, in Boston.


The U.S. Supreme Court declares the state’s buffer zone law unconstitutional.  PPLM, along with state and legislative leaders, take swift action to draft An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, also known as the Safe Access law.  On July 30, Governor Deval Patrick signs the bill into law, signaling a major victory for safe access to health care.


Following the launch of its Boston-Based Get Real Teen Council (GRTC), PPLM launches its second GRTC in Central Massachusetts.  


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adds Get Real to its list of evidence-based programs, making Get Real one of only 37 programs in the country included on the HHS list. 


Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak begins tenure as CEO and President of PPLM and PPAF.


PPLM expands its health care services to include PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily pill to help prevent HIV.


PPLM establishes its social science research program, becoming the first Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country to launch such a program.


The Massachusetts state legislature passes the Contraceptive ACCESS bill into law. This law protects and improves access to no copay birth control.  PPLM’s advocacy and political arm, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund was a leading advocate for the bill.


PPLM expands its health care services to offer gender affirming hormone therapy for the transgender community.


The Massachusetts state legislature passes into law the PATCH bill (legislation enhancing patient confidentiality), the NASTY Women Bill (legislation repealing archaic abortion and birth control laws), and a paid family and medical leave bill. The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund was a strong advocate for these bills.

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