A former Planned Parenthood president and vice president of the American Eugenics Society once advocated that if families did not limit births to just two children, then compulsory methods of population control could be necessary. The idea, proposed by Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher, a well-known eugenicist and one-time president of Planned Parenthood who established the Guttmacher Institute, came on the heels of radical proposals by Planned Parenthood board members and others that immediate compulsory means should be used to curtail population growth.
In 1970, Guttmacher addressed a group concerned about the so-called “population explosion.” Lee McCall, a reporter for the Sarasota Herald Tribune, attended the conference and noted that Guttmacher, as president of Planned Parenthood World Population “for the past eight years,” was invited to speak under the sponsorship of Planned Parenthood of Sarasota County, Inc.
McCall spoke with Guttmacher about “discussions” that had been floating around to limit children within families to “2 or 3.”
There has been discussion of limiting families to 2.2 children.
Dr. Guttmacher feels it inadvisable for Planned Parenthood to boldly vocalize such a plan.
‘It would be difficult,’ he said, ‘In the first place it would probably split the organization. Also we would have trouble with minority groups accepting this.’
Despite his apparent hesitancy towards coercion, McCall goes on to quote Guttmacher as admitting that such a “plan” of compulsory population control would be “desirable.”
“So even though the plan may be desirable and would make us a stronger nation, a less polluted nation, I feel it would be strategically unwise at this time,” the former Planned Parenthood president told the reporter.
Keep in mind, this is the very organization which allegedly claims it was founded on freedom of choice. And Guttmacher was attempting to dispel the theory that abortion and birth control were racist efforts of genocide aimed to limit the birth rate of the Black community.
This admission was profound and came shortly after the New York Times attempted to paint Guttmacher as a wanting “volunteer” birth control measures only.
In its 1969 article entitled, “Dr. Guttmacher is the Evangelist of Birth Control,” the New York Times was forced to acknowledge that many leaders sitting on Planned Parenthood’s board were in favor of coercive measures of population control. While painting the picture of an agency which was pushing birth control on the “ghetto” rather than the “middle-class” who were having more than the optimal amount of children, the paper noted that a “sizable” number of Planned Parenthood’s board was made up of “preponderantly white and well-to-do” people. They then quoted a Planned Parenthood board member who admitted the racist attitude of the organization, when he stated:
What it all comes down to is that we want the poor to stop breeding while we retain our freedom to have large families. It’s strictly a class point of view.
However, despite the majority of Planned Parenthood’s board holding a “class” point of view regarding who should be “encouraged” to use contraception, if Guttmacher was for “voluntary measures” of population control, compulsory measures were never ruled out. Because, as the Planned Parenthood president saw it, if “voluntary measures” did not work, then force would be necessary.
This point of view can clearly be seen in a 1969 article from Medical World News Reports, in which Guttmacher floated the possibility that coercion could be used. His shocking statement was published by the Sarasota Herald Tribune where it quoted Guttmacher as suggesting that, “Each country will have to decide its own form of coercion, and determine when and how it should be employed.”
The following year (1970) Guttmacher told an audience at New Mexico State University that, “[…] if by 1990, the population is still growing at a rate of 2% then we must go to some kind of compulsory birth control.” (emphasis added).
Earlier in 1966, Guttmacher compared the world population with the threat of nuclear war and told the Washington Post that governments may have to act officially to limit families saying, “It may be taken out of the voluntary category.”
In his 1959 book, “Babies by Choice or By Chance”, Guttmacher described the atomic bomb as “more merciless to our generation” and “more kinder to future generations” than “the explosion of the population bomb.” He bemoaned the fact that death rates were lowering, while birth rates were on the rise, writing, “Therefore if we want to decelerate the rate of population growth, it must be done by conception control.”
This idea of temporary volunteerism was also noted by author Angela Franks, who wrote in her book, “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility”, that, “in the late 1960’s, Guttmacher put a limit on volunteerism: if we don’t see a population decline by 1980, he said, ‘we’ll have to get tough.'”
The fact is that Guttmacher’s ideas of forced or compulsory population control measures were in lock-step with Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger. After all, they were both members of the very racist American Eugenics Society, with Guttmacher serving as the group’s vice-president. As Live Action News has documented in the past, Sanger made sure that Planned Parenthood was knee deep in eugenics.
But, rarely reported by contemporary media is the fact that Sanger once suggested that parents should be required to have a “license” to even be allowed to have children at all.
In her “A License for Mothers to Have Babies” with the subtitle, “A code to stop the overproduction of children.” Sanger outlined her plan article by article, which read in part (emphasis mine):
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 the parents 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.
While Sanger’s plan may have been viewed as extreme in her day, and the idea of coercion may have been chided as evoking a potential backlash against Planned Parenthood, my colleague, Kelli wisely observed that the “two-child idea” advocated by Guttmacher was just as eugenic. In a recent Live Action News report, Kelli noted that the, “[…] view of ‘two children and no more’ has its roots in the eugenics movement, and at the heart of the eugenics movement lies Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger and her friends advocated population control for the ‘unfit’, while today’s eugenicists tend to couch their beliefs about family size in terms of environmental concerns.
Despite that fact that Guttmacher and Sanger were both (as eugenicists) concerned that the world population was a threat, it was under Guttmacher’s leadership that Planned Parenthood first vocalized abortion as part of the answer to “over-population.”
He noted this approval in the 1970 interview where he stated:
If we could get the abortion law liberalized, most of the 750,000 unwanted pregnancies would not lead to babies – rejected children, battered baby syndrome and illegal abortions.
And, in that same year, Guttmacher admitted to a 1970 Cornell Symposium, (according to an April 7, 1970 article published by the Cedar Rapids Gazette), that although he did not know when life began, he believed that “unlimited abortion” was the only way to reduce population growth saying:
There is no question that the most effective way of reducing population growth is by unlimited abortion.
Today, Alan Guttmacher is painted by some as a hero of “reproductive rights” despite his promotion of coerced population control and abortion. And, Guttmacher was correct about one thing, and that is that abortion has been an effective tool in the limitation of births. This was recently acknowledged by pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said, “I had thought 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.”
It is no surprise that Guttmacher’s namesake institution, the Guttmacher Institute would later be referred to as a “research arm” and a “special affiliate” of Planned Parenthood. After all, on their website, his Institute describes Guttmacher by saying, “No one was better able to unite the Planned Parenthood organization or summon it to carry out its historic mission.”