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Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger

by Options for Women on February 5, 2015
We just finished reading the Planned Parenthood Annual Report for 2013-2014. It was full of some eye-opening remarks and dollar amounts, and we thought we’d discuss a few things that stuck out to us. Because there are quite a few, we’re breaking this into a series of blog posts. Our first focuses on Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger.
 
The annual report begins with a letter from the chair, Alexis McGill Johnson, and president, Cecile Richards, and the very first line invokes PP found Margaret Sanger. Sanger, born in 1879, was an activist who was jailed for opening a clinic that gave out birth control. While PP rallies behind her as a feminist icon, they fail to mention her racist ideals and penchant for eugenics. A quick search for Sanger quotes brings up some very disturbing comments.
           
“The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." Women and the New Race
 
“Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies… and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
 Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.”
Birth Control Review
 
“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” From a 1932 Birth Control Review
 
"Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying ... demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism ...” The Pivot of Civilization
 
That’s right, Sanger felt large families would be merciful by killing their infants. She makes no reference to abortion here, but rather seems to be espousing infanticide.
 
Sanger also thought married couples should be required to have permits before they could be allowed to have children. Not only would parents only be allowed to have one child, parents who were deemed “unfit” would be denied the ability to have children. She proposed forced sterilization to accomplish that.
 
Sanger was a vocal advocate for mandatory sterilization, and even thought the poor should be sterilized before they could be allowed any government aid.
 
She spoke at gatherings of women of the Ku Klux Klan, was opposed to immigration, and purposely opened her clinics in areas serving the poor, non-white population.
 
While we can only speculate as to Sanger’s racial motives (there is much debate as to whether Sanger was truly racist, or simply opposed to those who were poor, no matter their race), the effects of Sanger’s views are still felt today. In New York City, where Sanger worked and founded Planned Parenthood, more black babies are aborted than are born alive. That’s right – for every 1,000 black babies born, 1,223 are aborted (statistics from 2011). For every 1,000 white babies born, only 265 are aborted.
 
If we were Planned Parenthood, we’d be distancing ourselves as much as we could from Sanger. However, they proudly tout their affiiation:
“Planned Parenthood is rooted in the courage and tenacity of American women and men willing to fight for women's health, rights, and equality. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is one of the movement's great heroes. Sanger's early efforts remain the hallmark of Planned Parenthood's mission.”
 
Sanger’s efforts were not about goodwill and advancing women’s healthcare, and they most certainly aren’t courageous. Rather, they were about placing restrictions on who could pro-create, and attempting to weed out segments of the population that she deemed unfit. Birth control was meant just as its name implies – as a way to control, to exert power over those without any, and to create a society made up of only Sanger approved progeny. We find this incredibly alarming.
 
You can read more about Sanger here.
 
 
 
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