Alice Bush

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Alice Mary Bush (7 August 1914 – 12 February 1974) was a pioneering New Zealand female physician, pediatrician and activist for family planning services and abortion access.

Medical career[edit]

Born in 1914, Alice Stanton entered the Otago Medical School at the University of Otago, Dunedin, in 1933, and completed her MB and ChB in 1937. In 1938, she was appointed a Resident at the Auckland Hospital, and became visiting doctor at Auckland's Truby King Karitane Hospital and Mothercraft Care facility in the same year.[1]

In the forties, Alice also became involved in medical politics. She co-authored a document that recommended A National Health Service (1943) for New Zealand, after she married William Bush in 1940. Alice also served as Secretary (1945-6) and President (1948, 1953) of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Medical Women's Association. She joined the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (1946) and later became a fellow of the same organisation- the first women to do so (1955). In 1947, she spent some time in London, where she served as a doctor at the Hospital For Sick Children in that city, before returning to New Zealand with her husband, where she helped to establish the Pediatric Society of New Zealand in that same year.

Family planning and abortion activism[edit]

In the late forties, Alice Bush also became involved with the New Zealand Family Planning Association, helping to provide respectability to an organisation that still proved controversial, given its role in publicising and distributing contraception. She served on its board (1947) and chaired its medical advisory committee (1960), before serving as liaison with the New Zealand Medical Association and clearing the way for clinic work with doctors before New Zealand approved use and distribution of the contraceptive pill (1961). Her role is chronicled in Helen Smythe's recent history of the Family Planning Association,Alice Bush's biographer, Faye Hercock, also noted that she was concerned about the rise in backstreet abortions and displayed considerable impatience with the conservatism of her male colleagues in her later years when it came to access to safe, legal and affordable abortion in New Zealand. Over time, Alice gradually radicalised her position and became one of the founders of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand. At the time she died, in 1974, the private Auckland Medical Aid Centre had just opened, providing a free-standing dedicated abortion clinic for the first time in New Zealand.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alice Bush et al.: A National Health Service: Wellington: Progressive Publishing: 1943.
  • Faye Hercock: Alice: The Making of A Woman Doctor: 1914-1974: Auckland: Auckland University Press: 1999: ISBN 1-86940-206-5.
  • Helen Smythe: Rocking the Cradle: Contraception, Sex and Politics in New Zealand: Wellington: Steele Roberts: 2000: ISBN 1-877228-16-8.

References[edit]