Margaret-Sanger-1917Having been roundly chastised by Aelianus for hardly ever posting anything on here, and prompted by the subject matter of a recent conversation with the aforementioned, behold the first in a sure to be sporadic and unspectacular series of posts about people I don’t like very much.  First on the list, Margaret Sanger.

There is, of course, no shortage of anti-Sanger stuff online, but it is surprising (in a ‘not really that surprising’ sense) how little of this is ever mentioned in the mainstream media in arguments about “women’s health” and “reproductive rights.”  The same could be said for Sangers’ contemporary and fellow eugenicist, our very own Marie Stopes.

Planned Parenthood, (which kills a baby every 96 seconds and gets over $500 million a year from the US taxpayer), is the result of an amalgamation of various organisations, the most notable of which was Sanger’s American Birth Control League (ABCL), whose mouthpiece was the Birth Control Review (1917-1940).  (Stopes was a bit more up-front about the agenda – in 1921 she founded the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress)  You can read archives of the Birth Control Review online here – for those with neither the time nor the inclination, Sanger’s contributions include articles entitled: “Some Moral Aspects of Eugenics” (June 1920), “The Eugenic Conscience” (Feb 1921), “The Purpose of Eugenics” (Dec 1924), “Birth Control and Positive Eugenics” (July 1925) and “Birth Control: The True Eugenics.”  On the Church, she says:

“The Catholic Church is the bigoted, relentless enemy of birth control.  This [birth control] movement threatens its hold upon the poor and the ignorant, and probably only the existence of restraining laws prevents it from applying the thumb-screw and the rack to all those who believe in a woman’s right to practice voluntary motherhood.”  Birth Control Review, June 1918

the birth control reviewRecently, I came across a video of Sanger being interviewed on American TV.  It is quite chilling to listen to her speak.  One of the most revealing excerpts reads as follows:

Interviewer: “Do you believe in sin… do you believe there is such a thing as sin?” Sanger: “I believe that the biggest sin in the world is bringing children in 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.”

{The full length interview is here.}

In Salvation is From the Jews, Roy Schoeman has a fascinating chapter on ‘Ideological Foundations of Nazism’ in which he examines the interplay between the birth control movement, eugenics and euthanasia in the years leading up to the Holocaust.  Commenting on Sanger, he says:

“Her plans for a national eugenics programme consisted of the same elements found in the Third Reich – forced sterilisation and concentration camps (which she referred to euphemistically as ‘segregation’ or ‘separation’.)  Consider the following points from her “Plan for Peace”, published in her Birth Control Review (April 1932):

d. to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilisation and segregation to that grade of the population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

f. to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilisation.

g. to apportion farmlands and homesteads for these segregated persons where they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.”  [page 189]

The modern-day Planned Parenthood supporter would (one hopes!) be embarrassed by this, but PP are hardly falling over themselves to distance themselves from Sanger’s worldview.  Cf . The Annual PPFA Margaret Sanger Award, which PP says is its “highest honour.”

Hilary Clinton receives PP's highest honour from President Cecile Richards.

Hilary Clinton receives PP’s highest honour from President Cecile Richards.

Receiving the 2009 Sanger Award, Hilary Clinton said:

“..the best way to ensure that women are not victimized by coercive government practices is to make sure that they have access to family planning. For those who care so deeply about reducing the abortion rate, the best way to make sure we reduce abortion is to provide access to safe family planning. (Applause.)”

She also reminded everyone that:

“Margaret Sanger’s work here in the United States and certainly across our globe is not done.”

Fast forward to March 2013, and here is a Planned Parenthood person giving the PP line on whether a baby lying alive on a table following a botched abortion should be “victimized by coercive government practices.”  Margaret Sanger would be proud.