Planned Parenthood and its marketing gurus want the public to believe that they have disavowed founder Margaret Sanger for her racist and eugenicist beliefs, despite Sanger’s name being prominently associated with its facilities. Planned Parenthood often refers to Sanger as a “hero” and continues to make light of her history and associations with the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists.
As Live Action News previously reported, Margaret Sanger was a proponent of eugenics who spoke to the women’s branch of KKK in 1926. She also created the “Negro Project.” In a letter penned to Clarence Gamble, she insisted upon using Black ministers to win the Black community to her cause because “[w]e do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” If it did, she believed she could use these ministers to “straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of [the Black community’s] more rebellious members.”
In a recent post on Medium.com, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said of the current climate of racism in America:
This racism didn’t happen on its own — it was built by white people and white people must take action to dismantle it. People of color have led the fight against racism for generations, but we all have a responsibility to tear out the foundations of racism wherever we find it: in ourselves, our communities and our organizations, including Planned Parenthood.
The fact that Richards neglected to mention is that Planned Parenthood’s founder was tied to the eugenics movement which forcefully sterilized many Blacks and minorities. Planned Parenthood even served as a referral agency to some of those eugenics boards, as the film Maafa21 details:
In some parts of the country, Planned Parenthood was closely associated with these state eugenics boards and was often a referral agency for them. But the system did not always run smoothly. In 1969, when the number of sterilizations approved by the Iowa State Eugenics Board began to drop, the Board was attacked in the press by the executive director of Planned Parenthood Robert Webber. He said that he was alarmed by the decline in numbers and that the Eugenics Board should expand its approval criteria.
Board chairman Dr. S.M. Korson responded that the Board’s guidelines were already fairly broad. He pointed out that approvals were routinely given for young girls for no reason other than the Board’s speculation that they might likely one day engage in immoral behavior without the capacity for being wives and mothers. At that point, Webber publicly scolded the Board and told them that they should either increase the number of sterilizations or quit.
Now, after years of being exposed by conservatives, pro-lifers, and African American activists, Planned Parenthood must be feeling the heat.
If Planned Parenthood wants to address racism in America, why does it continue to refer to its founder as “a woman of heroic accomplishments” and a “true visionary”?
In a piece written to celebrate its 100th anniversary, Planned Parenthood offered more words of praise for Sanger than criticism or denouncements. It read in part:
Our founder, Margaret Sanger, was a woman of heroic accomplishments, and like all heroes, she was also complex and imperfect.
[…] While she was a woman of heroic accomplishments, Margaret Sanger had some beliefs, practices, and associations that we acknowledge, denounce, and work to rectify today. Her life story provides a portrait that is bold, fascinating, formidable, human, complicated, and flawed.
While Planned Parenthood attempts to denounce Sanger’s ties to the Klan, Planned Parenthood waffles about the harm it caused, saying that Sanger was simply motivated by a “deeply held compassion for the women and children.” Planned Parenthood often claims that Sanger was a product of her time — and apparently, according to Planned Parenthood, so was the KKK. Planned Parenthood refers to that racist organization as 1920s “mainstream movement” which “was considered a legitimate anti-immigration organization with a wide membership that included many state and local officials. At that time, it defined its enemies as Blacks, Catholics and Jews.” The group specifies that it “today denounces Sanger’s address to the Ku Klux Klan.”
And of the eugenics movement, which forcefully sterilized and stigmatized not only Blacks but other minorities like the disabled, criminals, and immigrants, Planned Parenthood writes:
In the early 20th century, eugenics — the “science” of improving society through planned breeding — was a theory accepted by most American scientists and physicians. Eugenics was embraced across the political spectrum, from conservatives to socialists — so much was it embraced that it was taught in universities.
But despite the false claim that Sanger sought “voluntary” means of population control, Planned Parenthood acknowledged her associations with the Eugenics movement, writing:
We denounce her endorsement of the Buck v. Bell decision as well as her involvement with the American eugenics movement and her adherence to some of its principles and values. However, words are one thing and actions are quite another.
While Planned Parenthood wants the public to believe that it has repudiated Sanger’s eugenics connections, the corporation continues to honor her. Planned Parenthood has named its most prestigious award after Sanger, the Margaret Sanger Award, given to those who support Planned Parenthood’s mission.
The first award was issued in 1966. In 1972, Planned Parenthood “honored” Alan Guttmacher, who was president of Planned Parenthood. Guttmacher was also Vice President of the American Eugenics Society.
Planned Parenthood has renamed one of its centers after Margaret Sanger, and despite Richard’s promise to make a change, the facility held Sanger’s name until June of 2020. Keep in mind that this did not happen in the 1940’s, but after the civil rights struggles had taken over the nation’s streets in 1973. According to its history page, Planned Parenthood New York City’s (PPNYC) Manhattan clinical facility merged with the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau and was renamed the Margaret Sanger Center. It relocated to Bleecker Street in 1997.
Currently, the Margaret Sanger Center is listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “resource.”
In fact, the city of New York has designated the street in front of Planned Parenthood’s facility as “Margaret Sanger Square,” according to a city website, which states, “Sanger’s original Manhattan clinic is landmarked, but it is now a private home (located at 17 West 16th Street) and closed to the public.”
The Preservation Commission documented the building’s “contribution to New York City history.”
In 1989, Planned Parenthood of New York City leased the loft building at 26-30 Bleecker Street, moving its offices there after completing a conversion and major interior renovation in 1990-91. Its parent organization, Planned Parenthood of America […] having been founded in 1939 as the Birth Control Federation of America. Among its forerunners was the country’s first birth-control clinic, opened in Brooklyn in 1916 by Margaret Sanger (1879-1966). In 1952, she helped to form the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The intersection of Bleecker and Mott Streets, in front of the Planned Parenthood of New York City offices, has been renamed “Margaret Sanger Square” in her honor.
But the New York Center is not the only Planned Parenthood facility named after Sanger.
In addition, several Planned Parenthood affiliates offer Societies named after the eugenicist.
And in Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood published donations they received through their “Margaret Sanger Society” via their annual reports:
Today, despite the organization’s alleged disdain for Sanger’s eugenics collaborations, Planned Parenthood continues to praise her history online, calling her a “hero” on social media and various websites.
And just as disturbing, a Facebook group operated by a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa, called the Margaret Sanger Action Hour, is in operation at the current time of this article’s original publication. The group is listed as “is a weekly gathering for Planned Parenthood volunteers, advocates, and supporters in Central Iowa” and is operated by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
So much for repudiations and denouncements.
What Sanger stood for is inexcusable and the public is not fooled by faux denouncements. The truth is, Planned Parenthood has embraced Sanger’s eugenic roots because Sanger and Planned Parenthood are cut from the exact same cloth.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 8/11/20.