False Idols: Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger is a hero of the left wing and supporters of Planned Parenthood. She is marketed as an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921 which became part of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.
Wikipedia states that Sanger :
"...opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, which led to her arrest for distributing information on contraception after an undercover policewoman bought a copy of her pamphlet on family planning. Her subsequent trial and appeal generated controversy. Sanger felt that in order for women to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, they needed to be able to determine when to bear children. She also wanted to prevent so-called back-alley abortions, which were common at the time because abortions were illegal in the United States. She believed that while abortion was sometimes justified it should generally be avoided, and she considered contraception the only practical way to avoid them."
Regardless of where you stand on abortion and a woman's right to choose, those are fairly noble ideals - preventing women from the harm of botched abortions and helping them obtain equal status to men in society. Before we get to why Sanger's ideals give great cause for alarm, lets look at one of her greatest supporters, Hilary Clinton.
While serving as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton accepted Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger Award. Hilary Clinton was quoted as saying:
“It was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award. I admire Margaret Sanger enormously. Her courage, her tenacity, her vision … When I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I’m really in awe of her. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from her life, from the causes she launched and fought for and scarified for so greatly.”
Later Clinton backtracked on her praise for Margaret Sanger when controversial videos were released about the abortion clinic; she was apparently enlightened on the dark side of the Planned Parenthood's founders beliefs:
“I don’t have all the facts but Planned Parenthood has apologized for the insensitivity of the employee who was taped,” protested Mrs. Clinton of the Center for Medical Progress’s video-sting revealing a Planned Parenthood employee casually discussing the “harvesting” of babies. “But for more than a century Planned Parenthood has provided essential services for women.”
So what exactly did Sanger say and believe that was so abhorrent? Here are 13 things Sanger said during her lifetime, according to The Daily Signal:
1) She proposed allowing Congress to solve “population problems” by appointing a “Parliament of Population.”
“Directors representing the various branches of science [in the Parliament would] … direct and control the population through birth rates and immigration, and direct its distribution over the country according to national needs consistent with taste, fitness and interest of the individuals.” —“A Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932, pages 107-108
2) Sanger called the various methods of population control, including abortion, “defending the unborn against their own disabilities.” —“A Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932, pages 107-108
3) Sanger believed that the United States should “keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feeble-minded, idiots, morons, Insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred by the immigration laws of 1924.” —“A Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932, pages 107-108
4) Sanger advocated “a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.” —“A Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932, pages 107-108
5) People whom Sanger considered unfit, she wrote, should be sent to “farm lands and homesteads” where “they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.” —“A Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932, pages 107-108
6) She was an advocate of a proposal called the “American Baby Code.”
“The results desired are obviously selective births,” she wrote.
According to Sanger, the code would “protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.” —“America Needs a Code for Babies,” March 27, 1934, Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress, 128:0312B
7) While advocating for the American Baby Code, she argued that marriage licenses should provide couples with the right to only “a common household” but not parenthood. In fact, couples should have to obtain a permit to become parents:
Article 3. A marriage license shall in itself give husband and wife only the right to a common household and not the right to parenthood.
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 for parenthood.
Article 5. Permits for parenthood shall be issued upon application by city, county, or state authorities to married couples, providing they are financially able to support the expected child, have the qualifications needed for proper rearing of the child, have no transmissible diseases, and, on the woman’s part, no medical indication that maternity is likely to result in death or permanent injury to health.
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.
“All that sounds highly revolutionary, and it might be impossible to put the scheme into practice,” Sanger wrote. She added: “What is social planning without a quota?” —“America Needs a Code for Babies,” March 27, 1934, Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress, 128:0312B
8) She believed that large families were detrimental to society.
“The most serious evil of our times is that of encouraging the bringing into the world of large families. The most immoral practice of the day is breeding too many children,” she wrote.
“The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” she continued. —“Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 5: The Wickedness of Creating Large Families
9) She argued that motherhood must be “efficient.”
“Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is 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,” Sanger wrote. —“Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 18: The Goal
10) Population control, she wrote, would bring about the “materials of a new race.”
“If we are to develop in America a new race with a racial soul, we must keep the birth rate within the scope of our ability to understand as well as to educate. We must not encourage reproduction beyond our capacity to assimilate our numbers so as to make the coming generation into such physically fit, mentally capable, socially alert individuals as are the ideal of a democracy,” Sanger wrote. —“Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 3: The Materials of the New Race
11) Sanger wrote that an excess in population must be reduced.
“War, famine, poverty and oppression of the workers will continue while woman makes life cheap,” she wrote.
Mothers, “at whatever cost, she must emerge from her ignorance and assume her responsibility.” —“Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 1: Woman’s Error and Her Debt
12) “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” Sanger wrote. —Letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble on Dec., 10, 1939
13) In an interview with Mike Wallace in 1957, Sanger said, “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world, that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically.”
“Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin—that people can—can commit,” she said.
A website called BlackGenocide.org offers more information on Margaret Sanger, including these stances:
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has been protective of Margaret Sanger's reputation and defensive of allegations that she was a racist. They correctly point out that many of the attacks on Sanger come from anti-choice activists who have an interest in distorting both Sanger's work and that of Planned Parenthood. While it is understandable that Planned Parenthood would be protective of their founder's reputation, it cannot ignore the fact that Sanger edited the Birth Control review from its inception until 1929. Under her leadership, the magazine featured articles that embraced the eugenicist position. If Sanger were as anti-eugenics as Planned Parenthood says she was, she would not have printed as many articles sympathetic to eugenics as she did.
In many ways, Sanger is no different from contemporary feminists who, after making the customary acknowledgement of issues dealing with race and class, return to analysis that focuses exclusively on gender. These are the feminists who feel that women should come together around "women's issues" and battle out our differences later. In failing to acknowledge differences and the differential impact of a set of policies, these feminists make it difficult for women to come together.
Given the cloudy history of Planned Parenthood, and its founder Margaret Sanger, are you still a firm supporter?