Exposing the Racist Crusade of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood

COMMENTARY: Planned Parenthood’s past, it turns out, is its present and, most likely, its future.

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, espoused a racist mentality.
Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, espoused a racist mentality. (photo: 1922, Underwood & Underwood / Public domain)

The Greater New York chapter of Planned Parenthood is removing the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, unapologetic eugenicist and (up-to-now) liberal heroine, from its flagship building.

This comes not long after the publication of an open letter from its employees that stated, “Planned Parenthood was founded by a racist, white woman.” The signers go on to not only accuse the organization of being founded in animus towards people of color, but also carrying that racist attitude forward to the present: “We know that Planned Parenthood has a history and a present steeped in white supremacy and we, the staff, are motivated to do the difficult work needed to improve.”

A history and a present steeped in white supremacy — such moral clarity is refreshing, but will it change Planned Parenthood’s operations on the ground? Probably not, because what we are seeing here is a name change, not a policy change.

Almost 80% of the corporation’s surgical abortion facilities are, and will likely remain, located in minority neighborhoods. Small wonder that African American women’s abortion rate is three times higher than Caucasian women’s; and that, in New York City, far more black babies are aborted annually than are born alive. Minority abortion is Planned Parenthood’s bread and butter, and the organization will continue to aggressively market, facilitate and perform those abortions in vulnerable communities of color.

Planned Parenthood’s past, it turns out, is its present and, most likely, its future.

Sanger’s rank racism is not some new revelation, some photo or comment recently uncovered in an old yearbook. No, Planned Parenthood has been hailing its founder for decades as a “trailblazer in the fight for reproductive rights,” while knowing her belief in keeping certain “undesirable” elements of the population down was a core goal of her organization. In a 1921 speech, Sanger distinguished between the “intelligent and wealthy,” who, she said, responsibly limit the size of their families, and the poor, who, she said, must be stopped from reproducing because their children will taint the American race: “We desire to stop at its source the disease, poverty and feeble-mindedness and insanity which exist today, for these lower the standards of civilization and make for race deterioration.” She took specific aim at African Americans in 1939, when introducing the Negro Project, expressly designed to restrict their population.

Today’s Planned Parenthood preserves the mentality of its founder. Like Sanger, the corporation’s solution to the poverty and hopelessness in the minority neighborhoods they “serve” is to eliminate “problematic” human beings. It doesn’t seek to reduce misery but to eliminate the miserable through abortion. This is why Planned Parenthood lobbies relentlessly for Medicaid funding for abortions for low-income women. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg admitted just this in a New York Times interview, in which she said that “at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

There’s a phrase that’s worth considering: “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Very Margaret Sanger.

Civil-rights leaders once condemned this mentality. “The Constitution called us three-fifths human, and then whites further dehumanized us. ... Those advocates of taking life prior to birth do not call it ‘killing’ or ‘murder’; they call it ‘abortion.’ They further never talk about aborting a baby, because that would imply something human. Rather, they talk about aborting the fetus. ‘Fetus’ sounds less than human….” That’s Jesse Jackson, speaking to the National Right to Life Committee in 1977. Of course, this was before he decided he wanted a future in Democratic Party politics.

The new focus on Sanger’s racism is already creating whiplash in political circles and should cause more in days to come. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has also asked for the removal of their founder’s name from the street that they themselves lobbied to be designated Margaret Sanger Square. And what of the once-proud past winners of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award? They include Hillary Clinton (“I admire Margaret Sanger enormously”) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Will they be asked to renounce their Margaret Sanger Awards?

It’s high time they did. And not just because decades ago Sanger founded Planned Parenthood to carry out a racist mission, but because today it still does.

Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a policy adviser for The Catholic Association, and Maureen Ferguson is a senior fellow for The Catholic Association.

Clockwise from top left: Christ is adored in downtown Indianapolis July 20; Bishop Andrew Cozzens blesses the faithful with the Blessed Sacrament from the Indiana War Memorial July 20; the Host is elevated at Mass and adored at Lucas Oil Stadium on Day 2 of the NEC.

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