Planned Parenthood Ottawa’s History

Learn more about the history of PPO and the broader SRH movement throughout the years.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge PPO’s office resides on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe land. Land that was never traded, sold or treatied. Land that was stolen from Anishnaabe people and exploited.

While we share our gratitude for the stewards of these lands on which we now reside, we also recognize how this is one of the many ways our organization benefits from historical and ongoing settler colonialism. Colonialism is a system of social, political or economic domination of one group/people by another typically achieved through violent means. Settler colonialism refers to the specific form of colonialism wherein the main function is the replacement of Indigenous populations with an invasive settler society.

Recognizing our privileges…

In recognizing our privileges, we also acknowledge the ongoing colonial violence that Indigenous people face at the hands of institutions, including those within the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) sector. SRH has and continues to be weaponized against Indigenous people and other racialized people since colonization began on these lands. From forced sterilization, to stealing children from their homes and communities – the mainstream SRH sector has seldom been a safe space for Indigenous people.

It is essential to move beyond acknowledgement and into action that is committed to building a safer space and services for Indigenous people in so-called Ottawa. By supporting Indigenous-led SRH practices and organizations, and by working on our own accountability process.

Content warning

This page explicitly discusses topics related to eugenics, racism, sexism, colonialism and reproductive coercion.

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1938

Margaret Sanger creates  the “N-word project”, a publication with the aim to force birth control as a means of weeding out the “unfit”, meaning people with disabilities and racialized people.

1961

Rooted in Sanger’s ideals of eugenics, the roots of Planned Parenthood Ottawa begin. Originally being called the “Ottawa Society for Population Planning”.

1968

Planned Parenthood Ottawa establishes a family planning clinic and begins distributing birth control. The clinic is housed in the basement of the Knox Presbyterian Church and staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses, and social workers.

1969

Advertising or selling of birth control was officially removed from the Criminal Code in Canada allowing people to sell and use birth control legally.

1972

The Alberta Eugenics board closes. In it’s 43 years of existence, the Eugenics board forcibly sterilized 2832 Indigenous women and people with disabilities.

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1986

PPO shuts down its Family Planning Clinic after a complaint lodged by the Ontario College of Pharmacists. According to the college, we were breaking the law by distributing birth control without a pharmacy license.

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1986

The Supreme Court of Canada bans the court-ordered sterilization of people living with developmental disabilities.

1988

Abortion is de-criminalized on the ground that it is a violation of section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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1996

PPO begins offering free pregnancy options counselling to people across Ottawa.

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2005

Emergency contraception, known as Plan B, becomes available without a prescription.

2015

Mifegymiso, the medical abortion pills, is approved for us by Heath Canada. These pills, as opposed to other pills previously used in Canada for medical abortion, is considered the “gold standard” for medical abortion.

The Future of Planned Parenthood Ottawa

In being transparent about our history, we hope to ensure our future is rooted in the principles of reproductive justice, anti-oppression and transformative justice. Part of our process in doing so is being a part of the Safety Labs project. Safety Labs is a project based on the values of transformative justice, aiming to guide organizations on how to better address existing conflict and harm, and how to further prevent harm. As part of our participation in this project, this page will be updated with our team’s progress.