Guest Column

Is Planned Parenthood racist? See what its own affiliates had to say.

Image: Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Center New York 26 Bleecker St (Image: Google Street view 2019)

(STOPP International) In July 2020, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced that it was removing Margaret Sanger’s name from its clinic in Manhattan, New York City. The reason PPGNY gave for the action was that Sanger was a racist.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America said it supported the New York affiliate’s decision to strike Sanger’s name from the center. Melanie Roussell Newman, Senior Vice President of Communications and Culture at the racist Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: “Planned Parenthood … is reckoning with our history, and working to address historical inequities to better serve patients and our mission.”

Five separate Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country have issued statements on this. Unlike PPFA headquarters, most of these affiliates noted that not only was Planned Parenthood involved with historical racism, but that racism still permeates the organization today.

Below we present excerpts from the five statements, along with a link to the full statement from each affiliate. In most cases, the statement came from the affiliate organization, published on its website, not from one particular spokesperson.

We call your attention to the words these organizations chose to use about Planned Parenthood. We added the underlining to the statements to emphasize words like racist, white dominant, harm, white supremacy (past and present), bias, and structural racism.

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York 

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color … Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy.  There is overwhelming evidence for Sanger’s deep belief in eugenic ideology … Removing her name is an important step toward representing who we are as an organization and who we serve … we will

1. Divest from and dismantle white dominant organizational cultural norms and values

2. Adopt Individual and Institutional practices that value people of color>

3. Center communities of color voice, experience and knowledge of self

4. Build accountable relationships with communities of color”

Planned Parenthood of Pacific Southwest

  • “We must confront how white supremacy of the past and present continue in the institutions we are a part of today — including our own organization.”
  • “We acknowledge how the faults in our history have manifested today, including the implicit bias within our own organization, and recognize that this is part of the problem.”

Planned Parenthood of the North Central States

“We are owning our organization’s history and are committed to addressing the implicit bias and structural racism within our organization and communities … Sanger’s promotion of eugenics was egregious and wrong … we are owning our organization’s history and are committed to addressing the implicit bias and structural racism that continues to exist within our organization.”

Planned Parenthood of California Central Coast

“Planned Parenthood … is reckoning with racism in our history, and looking inward to address our historical inequities … Margaret Sanger, was a part of a eugenics movement that was rooted in ableist and racist ideals … We cannot condone that behavior. And we cannot ignore how her behavior and associations have shaped Planned Parenthood today … Planned Parenthood is committed to racial justice. We also recognize that we cannot address structural racism or white supremacy in this country and communities without addressing our own.”

Virginia League for Planned Parenthood

“We also acknowledge our past and our present participation in white supremacy and are committed to stopping, learning, growing and living our values through the hard and uncomfortable work of progress. As we mourn, we are also forced to take a look at ourselves and to reckon with change.”

If you want to know more about the racist culture inside Planned Parenthood, read what employees of PPGNY had to say. “After years of complaints from staff about issues of systemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility for Black staff, highly-paid consultants were brought in three separate times to assess the situation. Each time, employees of color were brutally honest about their experiences, but nothing changed. It is not possible to do justice to the scope and gravity of this issue here. Black women and other staff of color created a space to speak directly to their experiences.” Please take the time to read this.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at STOPP International and is reprinted here with permission.

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