Georgana Foster: Some history behind Tapestry’s 40 years of service
To the editor:
Thanks to the Gazette for the Sept. 27 editorial on the 40th anniversary of Tapestry Health, and especially for the historical background. I could add an additional note to this history: that its founding as the Family Planning Council of Western Massachusetts came only a few years after it became legal in this state for even married couples to buy contraceptives. Up to 1966, they had to obtain them from a trusted drug store, in a plain paper bag from under the counter (Massachusetts being the last state to legalize contraceptives).
Leslie Tarr Laurie told the gathering of alumni workers at the 40th celebration in Holyoke that she and others were only 22 years old when they embarked on their mission. She received citations brought by local state legislators from the state body, from Congress and from Holyoke officials.
In spite of these accolades, as your editorial points out, every year there is a fight for the agency’s public funding. One of the reasons for this may be found in the Sept. 9 Gazette column on abortion rights, which shows how opposition to legal abortion affects national laws on contraception, because the FDA licensing of each new contraception pill is opposed as if it were to cause an abortion. President Reagan tried to make it a part of foreign policy not to contribute to United Nations maternal health clinics for millions of women in poor countries because they might mention abortion. (The policy was abolished by President Obama on his first day in office). At present, the House is trying to eliminate coverage of contraceptives from health insurance by employers.
Besides supporting Tapestry, I have also been a member for 35 years of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a Washington-based organization supported by many Jewish and Christian groups. The latest report from its minister director details how they witness that there are religious organizations who believe in legal abortion, and contraception, while also working with young women about responsible decisions. Their mottos, on my bumper sticker, state “prayerfully pro-choice,” and “pro-family, pro-women and pro-choice.”