Planned Parenthood is condemning its founder, Margaret Sanger, for her “eugenic ideology” and “racist legacy.” But if the nation’s largest abortion provider really wants to erase her legacy, it will also have to erase itself.
On July 21, Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY), announced the removal of Sanger’s name from its Manhattan Health Center. The name change, supported by the national organization, came “as a public commitment to reckon with its founder’s harmful connections to the eugenics movement.” But to fight against the notion that some lives are more worthy or valuable than others, Planned Parenthood should do something else too: halt its abortion procedures.
According to PPGNY’s press release, the decision “reflects the first of many organizational shifts to address Sanger's legacy and system of institutional racism.”
“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,” Karen Seltzer, PPGNY’s board chair, declared. Sanger’s “concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy” and her “deep belief in eugenic ideology.”
The move comes after hundreds of employees last month condemned Planned Parenthood’s founder as a “racist, white woman” – a woman who, among other things, once addressed a women’s auxiliary branch of the Ku Klux Klan.
Today, as the largest U.S. abortion provider, Planned Parenthood still encourages the destruction of the unwanted human person. And while Margaret Sanger opposed abortion, others have used her to promote it. As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in Box v. Planned Parenthood last year, “Although Sanger was undoubtedly correct in recognizing a moral difference between birth control and abortion, the eugenic arguments that she made in support of birth control apply with even greater force to abortion.”
According to the most recent Abortion Surveillance report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the year 2016, non-Hispanic black women obtain a large portion of abortions.
“[N]on-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic black women accounted for the largest percentages of all abortions (35.0 percent and 38.0 percent, respectively),” the report read. But while non-Hispanic white women had the lowest abortion rate and ratio, “non-Hispanic black women had the highest abortion rate (25.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratio (401 abortions per 1,000 live births).”
That said, the numbers aren’t perfect. Thirty-two areas reported cross-classified race/ethnicity data to the CDC, which meant the data excluded 20 reporting areas: 19 states and Washington, D.C.
Other abortion-tracking organizations, like the Guttmacher Institute, reported last year that “white patients accounted for 39 percent of abortion procedures in 2014” and “black patients for 28 percent.” At the same time, the U.S. Census Bureau finds that Americans who are “black or African American” make up just 13.4 percent of the population.
In other words, according to pro-life leaders, Planned Parenthood shouldn’t stop at canceling Sanger.
As president of the Students for Life of America, Kristan Hawkins declared in a statement that Sanger’s “intense campaign to push contraception and the abortion mentality on minority communities to ensure that fewer black babies would be born deserves our condemnation.” But, she added, Sanger’s “racist legacy continues to be at work.”
Likewise, March for Life President Jeanne Mancini called on PPGNY to “disavow (and stop) using abortion to target the African American community” and cited a story showing that “in 2012, more black babies were aborted in NYC than were born.”
As a former Planned Parenthood director and, now, pro-life advocate, Abby Johnson agreed that Sanger’s “influence on the abortion giant remains at its core.”
Lila Rose, the head of pro-life group Live Action, went a step farther by tweeting that the “evil that Margaret Sanger started when she founded Planned Parenthood 100 years ago pales in comparison to the atrocities the corporation does today.”
“Every day, Planned Parenthood kills 900 babies,” she added. “Nine hundred irreplaceable, precious human lives destroyed.”
In another statement, Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, applauded Sanger’s removal, but stressed that “it would be far better for Planned Parenthood to disavow the abhorrent and backward views of their founder.”
“Planned Parenthood must cease performing abortions and turn their work towards helping families truly plan successful parenthood by assisting them in meeting the material, social and emotional needs of raising happy and healthy families,” she explained.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, also wanted more from Planned Parenthood.
“The next step for Planned Parenthood is recognizing that Margaret Sanger’s racist legacy continues today, as abortion continues to disproportionately impact minority communities, especially the black community,” she tweeted.
She called on Planned Parenthood to “publish its historical abortion data by race” as well as “to drop its fierce opposition to anti-discrimination laws that protect unborn children from being selected for abortion due to their race, sex, or disability.”
That’s because someone’s wantedness, race, sex, or disability shouldn’t matter when it comes to matters of life and death. Instead, society should foster a culture that appreciates the inherent dignity and worth of every human person, from the moment of conception.