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Who Is Planned Parenthood?

The Truth About Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood wants you to believe that it is a benevolent charity helping women. But is that why Margaret Sanger founded the organization?  

Sanger said in her 1920 book Woman and the New Race that her work was "nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives."1  

In fact, she reiterated in her magazine Birth Control Review, "The campaign for Birth Control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal with the final aims of Eugenics." Thus, she concluded: "The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically defective."2

Sanger, in other words, was a eugenicist, and her establishment of Planned Parenthood was intended to promote her eugenic world view. She was a member of the American Eugenics Society for nearly her whole life. Eugenics hold that the value of human beings derives from the value of the genes; it does not believe that people have an innate value that cannot be quantified.  

As a result, Sanger believed that genetically "unfit" people should not be born. She supported coercive and forced sterilization by the government, saying in 1921 that "possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism."3

At the end of her life, she reacted to a friend who was raising money to feed starving children on Indian reservations. Did she offer to help the children? No. She said her friend "should be ashamed," adding, "I think it is disgusting to furnish food for people who just keep breeding children they know will starve to death."4 Sanger's attitude: don't feed the poor and give birth control to the survivors.

Sanger on Poverty

1922, Margaret Sanger:
"All of our problems are the result  of overbreeding amoung the working class."5

Sanger argued that charity benefiting the poor bred "constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and dependents. She called the poor a dead weight of human waste."6

"I see no wider meaning of family planning than control and as for restriction, there are definitely some families throughout the world where there is every indication that restriction should be an order as [well as] an ideal for the betterment of the family and the race."7

Margaret Sanger came to some very prejudiced conclusions:

"Anybody in this vast country is at perfect liberty to become a father or a mother! You may be diseased, you may be a mental defective, a moron, a pauper, a habitual criminal; you may be insane, irresponsible, with no knowledge of the laws of health, hygiene, or common decency; yet you may bring not merely one child into these United States. You are encouraged to bring a dozen. I, for one, believe that it is high time to recognize that if it is not right to import into our country individuals from whom we must later protect ourselves, it is even more imperative to protect ourselves and to protect American society today and tomorrow from the procreation of such individuals within our gates."8

The frequent use of the word breeding to describe human reproduction in Sanger's writings was another of her eugenic tics, serving to dehumanize the reproduction and family-rearing of the 'unfit.' Appropriating the eugenic predilection for comparing human reproduction to the animal breeding of a stud farm, she often made use of agricultural analogies. For example, she referred to certain unfit persons as 'human weeds.'  

"In his last book, Mr. [H.G.] Wells speaks of the meaningless, aimless lives which cram this world of ours, hordes of people who are born, who live, who die, yet who have done absolutely nothing to advance the race one iota. Their lives are hopeless repetitions. All that they have said has been said before; all that they have done has been done better before. Such human weeds clog up the path, drain up the energies and the resources of this little earth. We must clear the way for a better world ; we must cultivate our garden."9

She used the comparison to weeds more than once. For example, she wrote the following in a popular magazine, combining several eugenic metaphors: 

Nature eliminates the weeds, but we turn them into parasites and allow them to reproduce. Could any business maintain itself with the burden of such an overhead? Could any breeder of livestock conduct his enterprise on such a basis? I do not think so.10

Over twenty years later, she had still not shaken the habit of depersonalizing her fellow human beings. In her openings speech to a population conference in 1948, she compares American migrant workers to voracious insects.

"We are, moreover, becoming a nation of vast homeless, rootless, uprooted migrants, now sweeping onward toward the Pacific Coast like a scourge of locust, or a devastating flood of nomadic humanity. Can you imagine the impact of this vast scourge of human grasshoppers upon the settled communities which are not prepared to welcome them?"11

Here are a few final Margaret Sanger quotes: 

"The campaign for Birth Control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal with the final aims of Eugenics."12

 "[A]sk the government to first take off the burdens of the insane and feebleminded from your backs. Sterilization for these is the remedy."13

 

REBUTTING PLANNED PARENTHOOD:

It must be very embarrassing for the founder of Planned Parenthood to have had such strong eugenic beliefs. If you look at Planned Parenthood's website, they admit Sanger had some of these beliefs, but then they dismiss them as old-fashioned values. However, some of their statements on Sanger are so twisted, that we have to pull a Bill O'Reilly and take the spin off of it. For example, look at this statement from their website page about Sanger:

"Among her many visionary accomplishments as a social reformer, Sanger established these principles: A woman's right to control her body is the foundation of her human rights."14

Sure, a woman should have the right to control her body, unless she's one of the unfit who should be sterilized by the government...

[Continuing the principles that Sanger established] "Every person should be able to decide when or whether to have a child."14

Once again, unless she's poor or one of the "mentally and physically defective." (Sanger's own words)2

"But Sanger always believed that reproductive decisions should be made on an individual and not a social or cultural basis..."14

Sanger believed the decisions should be made on an individual basis? That's not what her own quotes indicate! Finally, Planned Parenthood tries to rationalize some of Margaret Sanger's beliefs this way: 

"However, attempts to discredit the family planning movement because its early 20th-century founder was not a perfect model of early 21st-century values is like disavowing the Declaration of Independence because its author, Thomas Jefferson, bought and sold slaves."14

So Jefferson had slaves; does Planned Parenthood want us to say slavery is fine and dandy?  Even when America had slave-holders, there were always abolitionists.  Even when the Nazis were in power, there were Germans who protested.  And when America's elite were all eugenicists, there were many ordinary people who objected.  Moral clarity is a responsibility for any age, no matter how difficult--and when an oppressive ideology holds sway, people have an especially great responsibility to stand for justice for the voiceless.

Today, Planned Parenthood wants us to support it while the unborn are being killed for any reason, even in the last months of pregnancy, in its clinics.  But just because some people, like Margaret Sanger, have a hard time recognizing injustice, it doesn't mean that all Americans are as morally blind as Planned Parenthood apparently wants us to be.

Sources:
1: Sanger, Woman and the New Race, 1920
2: "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control," Birth Control Review, Oct. 1921, p. 5

3: Ibid.

4: Letter, 4/3/62, Dorothy Brush papers (Sophia Smith Collection)
5: Sanger, Women, Morality and Birth Control, 1922
6: Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, 1922
7:
Sanger, Woman and the New Race, 1920
8: Margaret Sanger, 1920, p. 27-28
9: Margaret Sanger, "The Need for Birth Control in America," in Birth Control: Facts and Responsibilities, ed. Adolf Meyer, M.D. (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Co., 1925), 11-49, here 48
10: Margaret Sanger, "Is Race Suicide Probable?" Collier's 1925, 25
11: Margaret Sanger, "Opening Remarks," the International Congress on Population and World Resources in Relation to the Family, at Cheltenham, England, 1948, 19-20
12:
Margaret Sanger, "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda," Birth Control Review 5, no. 10 (Oct. 1921): 5
13: Margaret Sanger, "The Function of Sterilization," Birth Control Review 10, no. 10 (October 1926): 299
14: www.plannedparenthood.org, "The Truth About Margaret Sanger"

Most of the information on this page and much more through Angela Frank's book Margaret Sanger's Eugenic Legacy. It can be purchased at www.AngelaFranks.com