Hilda Crosby Standish knew from a young age that she wanted to spend her life serving and helping others. A bold and courageous woman, she was the first medical doctor of the first birth control clinic in Connecticut at a time when birth control was outlawed. As an avid promoter of birth control, sex education and planned parenting, her work has had a significant impact on generations of women.
Born in 1902, Dr. Standish graduated from Wellesley College in 1924 with a degree in zoology, and subsequently pursued a degree in medicine from Cornell Medical College. Following her internship and residency, Dr. Standish moved to Shanghai to serve as an assistant professor of obstetrics and instructor in medicine at the Women’s Christian Medical College. When she returned to Connecticut in 1935, she became the doctor and director of the Maternal Health Center in Hartford, the state’s first birth control clinic, considered illegal due to the Comstock Law of 1875. During her five years at the clinic, Dr. Standish lectured on birth control and planned parenting, and she often testified in the legislature in an attempt to change the Comstock Law.
From 1940 until her retirement in 1962, Dr. Standish traveled widely, speaking to students, PTA groups, and church groups about human development and sex education for boys and girls, as well as serving as a member of the School Health Advisory Council in West Hartford. She also worked briefly in private practice, but she decided to devote her time to raising her five children, rather than continue in obstetrics.
Dr. Standish served as an alumnae trustee of Wellesley College from 1956 to 1962, and she received a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Hartford in 1972. In 1983, the Hartford branch of Planned Parenthood was named the Hilda Standish Clinic, and she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.
Dr. Standish died in 2005.
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