One of Planned Parenthood’s largest abortion affiliates has finally disavowed its founder for her "racist legacy” and “connections to the eugenics movement.” Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) will be removing Margaret Sanger’s name from its Manhattan clinic after decades of choosing to overlook the organization’s white supremacist roots. However, this symbolic bowing to the far left’s “cancel culture” doesn’t change the fact that Planned Parenthood is still influenced by her inhumane beliefs.
Sanger made a variety of disturbing statements in her lifetime, like, “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” She favored the forced sterilization of those she deemed “unfit,” gave a speech to the Ku Klux Klan, and once wrote, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it” (mind you, like Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, she was talking about a child who had already been born).
PPGNY’s national organization, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has long said that many of Sanger’s racist quotes have been taken out of context. While the national organization acknowledges some of Sanger’s many flaws, it says her story is “complicated” and hasn’t totally disavowed her. It still labels her a “woman of heroic accomplishments” and it still calls its “highest honor” the Margaret Sanger Award.
However, in its news release, PPGNY parted ways with the standard talking points, acknowledging what it called “Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color.” Yet for years, Planned Parenthood has had the audacity to claim that it believes black lives matter.
As we know all too well, “cancel culture” is one of the far left’s frequently used tools to destroy anyone or anything that doesn’t comport with its radical ideology. Never at a loss for hypocrisy, though, the left frequently attempts to nuance the troubling pasts of its heroes, trying to make them acceptable while at the same time tearing down statues of those who helped make America the exceptional nation it is.
Some will accuse me of having a double standard when I say that it’s okay to “cancel” Margaret Sanger while defending statesmen like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Yet there’s a significant difference. While we roundly condemn Washington’s and Jefferson’s participation in the evil of slavery, we can still celebrate their lifelong work to create a nation built on the highest ideals of humanity.
On the other hand, Sanger’s open racism, her promotion of eugenics, and her advocacy of forced sterilizations to keep those she deemed “unfit” from “breeding” was her vision. Planned Parenthood was formed on that vision, and much of that vision still exists at Planned Parenthood today.
Planned Parenthood still considers certain people less than human and rejects the science of prenatal development by calling babies in the womb “clumps of cells,” “tissue masses,” and “products of conception.”
Planned Parenthood also continues to target minority communities. If black lives matter to Planned Parenthood, then why, according to a 2015 study, are nearly 80 percent of its surgical abortion facilities located within walking distance of minority neighborhoods? According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2014, a year when black women only accounted for about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they made up 28 percent of those having abortions. Each year in New York City, more black babies are aborted than born.
Pro-lifers have been pointing out Sanger’s despicable views for decades, and PPGNY didn’t just find out about Sanger’s past yesterday. So why is Planned Parenthood only now rejecting its founder—and why isn’t the entire organization doing it?
It strikes me how blatantly we see the double standard at work here. Sure, Sanger is getting “canceled,” but only at one of Planned Parenthood’s facilities and in a relatively mild way. Planned Parenthood still talks about the good she allegedly did and is willing to ascribe her transgressions to being a woman “of her time.”
How ironic that the left doesn’t give America’s Founders the same courtesy. There’s no allowance for context; no allowances for being “men of their time.” There is only cancellation and demands that everything they produced (namely, America) be destroyed.
Until Planned Parenthood stops dehumanizing living, growing children in the womb; until it ceases performing abortions; and until it stops locating facilities and advertising heavily in and around minority communities, it will continue carrying out Margaret Sanger’s original vision. “Canceling” Margaret Sanger and the symbolic gesture of removing her name from a building won’t change any of that.
Kay C. James is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).