The Race Welfare Society
Eugenics and birth control in Johannesburg, 1930-40
in Science and society in southern Africa
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The founders of the Race Welfare Society (RWS) turned to eugenics for a blueprint on how to cultivate a healthy and productive white population. Eugenics was the science and social movement dedicated to improving physical, mental or moral qualities in human populations. The RWS had done much to transform birth control from a shameful moral issue to a 'public health' issue and a 'maternal health' service in Johannesburg. Broadening the birth control clinic's mandate was instrumental to attaining its overriding goal of delivering contraception to poor and 'feebleminded' whites. The first birth control clinic in South Africa was opened on 4 February 1932 in Sauer's Building on Loveday Street in central Johannesburg. In 1935 the executive committee started expanding access to medicalised birth control beyond the 'poor white' community to include African, Coloured and Asian women.

Editor: Saul Dubow


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