Planned Parenthood celebrates 40 years in Santa Cruz
When the first family planning and birth control clinic opened in Brooklyn in 1916, it operated for nine days before its founder, Margaret Sanger, was arrested for breaking laws that prohibited the distribution of contraceptives.
It was one of many controversial actions the early sex educator and Planned Parenthood progenitor took to push for women’s reproductive rights.
“That was a very conscious civil disobedience. She was trying to provide services and change the law,” says Cynthia Mathews, a former Santa Cruz mayor and the first executive director of Planned Parenthood in Santa Cruz. Sanger’s earlier rebellions meant that by the time Mathews and a committee of 15 or so colleagues brought the organization to Santa Cruz in 1971, it was hardly a contentious arrival.