Planned Parenthood is often a target for the Right To Life organization this is especially true during elections. African-American Genocide is the newest accusation made against the organization. The Planned Parenthood founder is under attack for genocide.
Interestingly, the founder, Margaret Sanger did not begin the movement as an abortion center. The goals Sanger set forth were, first and foremost, that women had the right to limit the number of her pregnancies. Secondly, women could choose when to become pregnant, which would allow a woman to determine the time between pregnancies.
Sanger was one of 11 children and her mother had several miscarriages. She believed the multiple pregnancies and miscarriages shortened her mother’s life. Seeking to make a better life for herself, “Sanger attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute in 1886.” Then, she studied nursing at the White Plains Hospital.
Sanger and her husband lived in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in 1910, which was known as a “bohemian enclave known for its radical politics.” Sanger began writing a newspaper entitled, What Every Girl Should Know, in 1912. Her newspaper was the beginning of “her campaign to educate women” about reproduction.
As a nurse who worked in a “predominately poor, immigrant neighborhood,” she often treated women after a “back-alley abortion” or pregnancy self-termination. Appalled by these conditions, Sanger began to talk about birth control. She said, “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.”
Sanger’s feminist publication, The Woman Rebel (1914), promoted a woman’s right to determine whether or not she would become pregnant. Sanger was the creator of the term birth control. Her monthly publication was illegal due to the Comstock Act of 1873. This violation could land Sanger in jail for five years. As a result, she left the U.S. for England.
Sanger returned to the U.S. in 1915, and a year later, she opened the first birth control clinic. It was raided nine days after it opened, and Sanger, her sister, Ethel Bryne, and the staff were arrested. Sanger and her sister spent 30 days in jail.
In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The league opened the “first legal birth control clinic in the U.S.” Sanger sought funding for research and clinic support from other influential people. Dr. Clarence Gamble was one of these people.
The Planned Parenthood founder is under attack for genocide. This accusation occurred because Sanger has been misquoted many times. When discussing adding a “Negro doctor” to the staff in 1939, she detailed why there was a need for such a staff member. “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” is the misquote used by Conservatives to demonstrate Sanger was a racist.
The misquote is only an outtake of a letter Sanger sent to Dr. Gamble. In the letter, she detailed the importance of having a Negro doctor on staff because Negros did not trust white doctors. The last few sentences which the above quote is taken from are as follows: “The minister’s work is also important, and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation, as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs.”
However, Dr. Gamble was not without controversy. His practice, The Human Betterment League in North Carolina, was connected with a “forced sterilization program.” The targets were predominately poor minority men and women with low IQs. Between 1947 and 1977, there were at least 7,600 victims. Moreover, Sanger also spoke out in favor of the “sterilization for the mentally ill and mentally impaired.” The thought was a common belief for the time.
The Planned Parenthood founder is under attack for genocide because Sanger also believed in eugenics, but not racially biased eugenics as she is accused. Her grandson Alexander Sanger, chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council explicitly clarifies this misconception. He says, “Her beliefs were that women wanted better lives for their children and birth control allowed this. Due to wanting “their children to be free of poverty and disease, women were natural eugenicists.”
Currently, Planned Parenthood offers birth control training, birth control devices, as well as health care for men, women, and children. Statistically, 2.7 million people visit Planned Parenthood yearly. Due to Sanger’s determination, this organization has grown into a trusted entity. Nonetheless, the Planned Parenthood founder is under attack for genocide due to misquoting radicals. Yet, the birth control clinics Sanger believed in are open today.
By Cathy Milne
Edited By Leigh Haugh
Planned Parenthood–Who We Are
Patheos–Is Abortion an African-American Genocide? The Problem With Conservatives Citing Margaret Sanger
Feature Photo Courtesy of jaime22’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Photo Courtesy of Selbe’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License