Many consider that the advent of the birth control pill was the most socially significant medical advance of the century. The wheels of contraceptive science had begun to turn. During the 1950s and early 1960s, social scientists were greatly concerned about a "population explosion" consuming global resources with disastrous consequences for mankind. Zero population growth (ZPG) was a common goal, and the contemporary forward thinkers were focused on the global environment and population.
Dr. Alan Guttmacher was the most prominent of these forward thinkers. Trained as an obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Guttmacher (1898-1974) became president of Planned Parenthood and chairman of International Planned Parenthood's Medical Committee. He was a champion of voluntary regulation of contraception and abortion rights and devoted his career to the improvement of the social and medical welfare of women and minorities through family planning.
"In 1962, when I was first privileged to take leadership of Planned Parenthood-World Population, it appeared to me that physicians had not been given sufficient recognition or responsibility in the Planned Parenthood movement in the United States. I therefore suggested that Planned Parenthood physicians be brought together to see if it were possible to construct a viable organization of doctors with this common interest."
- Dr. Alan Guttmacher, from his presentation of the first Margaret Sanger Award in Medicine, 1963
"Family planning" became the catchall term that subsumed the concept of educating people about population, responsible use of birth control, the environment, and women's health. By 1963, Dr. Guttmacher recognized a need for a forum in which physicians could learn about and discuss advances in the field of family planning and formed AAPPP. Membership in AAPPP was limited to Planned Parenthood physicians, and the Association was based in the Planned Parenthood offices in New York.
The goals of AAPPP were primarily educational and advisory. The Association was committed to promoting the stability and health of family through responsible parenthood. It was pledged to the advancement of programs of child spacing, treatment of infertility, sex education, Marriage counseling, research in human reproduction, and genetic counseling. To accomplish these goals, AAPPP was committed to working with all public and private health agencies and organizations, and especially the National Medical Committee of Planned Parenthood and its local affiliate medical committees.
Funded largely by Planned Parenthood, with some small grants from pharmaceutical companies and membership dues from roughly 650 members, AAPPP's activities were modest in these early years. Starting in 1963, an annual scientific meeting would be held in conjunction with Planned Parenthood-World Population (PPWP). These meetings were the first of their kind, with AAPPP providing the accredited continuing medical educational component. Throughout the 1960s, most of the topical content of the annual meeting related to developments in oral contraceptive research, with some focus on population and other family planning issues.
The proceedings from each AAPPP- Planned Parenthood annual meeting were published under the title Advances in Family Planning. This quarterly publication, containing four to six papers in each issue, was edited by Dr. Ralph Wynn, who would become AAPPP board president in 1979, and published by Excerpta Medica in Princeton. Advances was sent free of charge to AAPPP members and to organizations such as the Population Council and Planned Parenthood Centers. Individual copies were sold for approximately $5.00 a piece. Advances was published regularly until 1981, when it was discontinued for financial reasons. There would not be another major Association publication until 1987, when the first issue of The American Journal of Gynecologic Health appeared.
During these early years of the Association's existence, AAPPP had volunteer leadership, no staff and no office space of its own. The thread holding together its members was the annual meeting and the publication Advances in Family Planning. The thread was held by Planned Parenthood, from which AAPPP drew its very lifeblood: AAPPP's funding came largely from Planned Parenthood, nearly all its members were Planned Parenthood physicians, and it was based in the Planned Parenthood offices in New York, with part-time administrative support from Planned Parenthood.
In 1970, Dr. John C. Cobb, executive committee treasurer, suggested that AAPPP might provide post-graduate training workshops in topics related to family planning at the annual meeting, for which the organization could charge a fee. The first of these post-graduate seminars was planned for 1974. It would mark AAPPP's increasingly important role as a provider of accredited continuing medical education in the United States, and the evolution of the Association.
THE ALAN GUTTMACHER LECTURESHIP
|AAPPP BOARD PRESIDENTS|
|1964 to 1965 Edward Tyler, M |
1965 to 1967 M. Edward Davis, MD
1967 to 1968 Howard C. Taylor, MD
1969 to 1970 Seymour Romney, MD
1970 to 1971 Richard Frank, MD
1971 to 1972 Donald Minkler, MD
1972 to 1973 John Cobb, MD
1973 to 1974 Donald P. Swartz, MD
1974 to 1975 Celso-Ramon Garcia, MD
1975 to 1976 Schuyler Kohl, MD
1976 to 1977 Elizabeth B. Connell, MD
1977 to 1978 Jack R. Lippes, MD
1978 to 1979 Theodore M. King, MD
1979 to 1980 Ralph M. Wynn, MD
Alan F. Guttmacher, MD (1898-1974), a champion of voluntary control of contraception and abortion rights, devoted his career to the social and medical welfare of women and minorities. An obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Guttmacher authorized the first paperback on birth control in 1961 and over the course of 40 years, wrote and revised a series of books demystifying pregnancy and childbirth. He was director of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, and served as president of the Planned Parenthood, chairman of International Planned Parenthood's Medical Committee. With his strong convictions and leadership, he was able to exert considerable influence on public policy decision makers in Washington. Known as a humanist with a strong social consciousness, Dr. Guttmacher saw medicine as a profession that should contribute to the solution of society's problems.
In his honor, AAPPP created in 1973 the annual Alan Guttmacher Lectureship, which is awarded to a major contributor to the field of reproductive health. The lecturer was asked to address major scientific advancements that could have significant reproductive health resonance in both the scientific and medical communities. The lecturer was to be a health care provider or scientist.