Pro-life advocates: Planned Parenthood can’t just wish away Margaret Sanger’s racism, eugenics
Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2021 / 05:00 am America/Denver (CNA).
After the head of Planned Parenthood promised to “reckon with” founder Margaret Sanger’s connections to racism and eugenics, pro-life advocates said the organization is still part of the problem.
In an opinion piece on Saturday for the New York Times, Alexis McGill Johnson – Planned Parenthood president and CEO – stated that the question of whether or not Sanger was a racist is one “that we’ve tried to avoid, but we no longer can. We must reckon with it.”
McGill Johnson addressed Sanger’s historic association with white supremist groups and eugenicists, acknowledging that the organization has failed to fully grapple with Sanger’s beliefs.
“Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions,” she wrote. “We have defended Sanger as a protector of bodily autonomy and self-determination, while excusing her association with white supremacist groups and eugenics as an unfortunate ‘product of her time.’”
However, pro-life advocates said that a simple apology and denunciation of Sanger’s beliefs is “cheap” and “hollow.”
Angela Franks, author of “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility,” told CNA in an interview that Planned Parenthood “is trying to have it both ways,” by appeasing to progressive activists without “getting to the heart of the problem with Sanger.”
“In some ways it’s a cheap attempt to repurpose the organization within the progressive lobby,” Franks said.
Black pro-life activist and former NFL player Benjamin Watson also said that Planned Parenthood’s action “rings hollow” unless the organization takes the “next step.”
“Whether they personally identify with Sanger’s ideology or not, they continue to carry out her mission, by serving as the leading executioner of our children,” Watson said in a written statement on Sunday.
“The same Sanger they claim to disavow would applaud their efforts and results, as a disproportionate percentage of Black children have been killed in Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics,” he said.
In her op-ed, McGill Johnson wrote that Sanger spoke to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan and was associated with the eugenics movement.
“Until recently, we have hidden behind the assertion that her beliefs were the norm for people of her class and era, always being sure to name her work alongside that of W.E.B. Dubois and other Black freedom fighters,” she wrote. “But the facts are complicated.”
Sanger also endorsed the Supreme Court’s 1927 Buck v. Bell decision “which allowed states to sterilize people deemed ‘unfit’ without their consent and sometimes without their knowledge — a ruling that led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of people in the 20th century,” McGill Johnson wrote.
“We will no longer make excuses or apologize for Margaret Sanger’s actions,” she stated.
The admission marked a stark change in tone from the nation’s largest abortion provider on its founder Margaret Sanger, having previously described her as a “trailblazer” for women’s rights.
While McGill Johnson’s piece touched on Sanger’s association with white supremicist groups, Franks said, it did not fully engage her embrace of eugenics.
“There were plenty of eugenicists who wanted to reduce people who were white too,” Franks said, explaining that there were elements of classism and ableism in the ideology that targeted the poor or the cognitively or physically disabled.