Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
Margaret Sanger, founder of the birth control movement, believed that religious people are “unthinking,” “irresponsible” and “reckless.” People of faith are “diseased” and “feeble-minded” paupers, she insisted, who “should not be allowed to bring offspring into the world.”
Planned Parenthood, the organization which Sanger founded, celebrated its 100th birthday on October 16 amid applause from pro-abortion feminists, praise from President Barack Obama and from Hillary Clinton, and acclaim by Hollywood celebrities.
At the same time, though, a coalition of pro-life groups launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #100YearsofAbuse, expressing their opposition to the abortion giant. The coalition—including Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans United for Life, Civil Rights for the Unborn, Family Research Council, Life Legal Defense Foundation, March for Life, Media Research Center, Pro-Life Action League, Radiance Foundation, Students for Life of America and the Susan B. Anthony List—called the celebration “a tragic milestone for our nation and a reminder of the millions of unborn children who will never have a birthday.” In the last three years alone, the coalition reported, Planned Parenthood has committed nearly one million abortions while receiving a total of $1.5 billion from the American people, against our will.
The week-long celebration of Planned Parenthood's 100 years of “choice” affords a great opportunity to peer more deeply into the character and the motivation of Planned Parenthood's founder. Was Margaret Sanger really, as some critics have alleged, against religion?
At New York's Park Theatre on November 18, 1921, Sanger delivered a speech entitled “The Morality of Birth Control.” In that speech, she divided society into three groups of people:
- the "educated and informed" class that regulated the size of their families;
- the "intelligent and responsible" who desired to control their families in spite of lacking the means or the knowledge; and
- the "irresponsible and reckless people" whose religious scruples "prevent their exercising control over their numbers." That last group must, she believed, be stopped from producing children.
Here, from that speech, are her cautionary warnings against people of faith:
The third [group] are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequence of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers. Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent entirely upon the normal and fit members of society for their support.
There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped. For if they are not able to support and care for themselves, they should certainly not be allowed to bring offspring into this world for others to look after. We do not believe that filling the earth with misery, poverty and disease is moral. And it is our desire and intention to carry on our crusade until the perpetuation of such conditions has ceased.
Sanger's animus toward religion—and more specifically, toward Catholicism—was evident in a 1957 interview with Mike Wallace. After touting her opinion that birth control would keep millions around the world from starving, she admitted that the most vociferous opposition to birth control and abortion came from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, Sanger believed, had the “wrong attitude” about marriage and love. The Church was “mistaken,” she claimed, because it taught that the primary function of marriage is to beget children.
In actuality, the Church teaches that there are two purposes of marriage, the unitive and the procreative. Sanger's 1957 interview preceded the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; but the Baltimore Catechism, which was the popular compilation of Church teaching at the time, said essentially the same thing: “The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are: first, to sanctify the love of husband and wife; second, to give them grace to bear with each other's weaknesses; third, to enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God (Baltimore Catechism, No. 285).”
Sanger's contempt for “the hierarchy” continued: “How do you know?” she challenged. “You're celibate. You're not in love. You're not married. You don't know children.”
She charged that the Catholic Church was fixated on the “smudginess of sex.” And asked by Mike Wallace whether she believed in sin, Sanger was quick to reply: “The greatest sin of all,” she said, “is bringing babies into the world.”
What does the future hold for Margaret Sanger's birth control organization?
Despite Planned Parenthood's blustering self-congratulatory celebration, things don't look good for the abortion giant. Margaret Sanger died on September 6, 1966. The pro-life coalition's statement confirms that the organization which Sanger founded is losing ground. As more women are empowered to choose life for their babies, Planned Parenthood last year was forced to close 33 facilities in 18 states.
In 2015, David Daleiden and his team of investigators from the Center for Medical Progress proved with a series of undercover videos that Planned Parenthood not only aborts children, but that the organization illegally profits from the sale of those aborted babies' organs. Following that disclosure, in December 2015 the U.S. Senate sent a bill to the President's desk, calling for an end to taxpayer funding for the scandal-ridden organization.