Birth control and abortion are some of the hottest debates in this country and have been for a long time. But what, if anything, do we blacks know about the supposed humble beginnings of this revolution that has pitted right and left wingers on opposite ends of the debate? Margaret Sanger has been coined as the mother of birth control, abortion and also of Planned Parenthood. To a lot of people she was a godsend, someone who gave women control over their bodies during the time of suffrage and one of Time magazine’s hundred most important people of the 20th century. To some she is a monster bringing about the death of so many innocent fetuses. So what about the black community, where do you and I stand on these issues, but more importantly on the founder of these debates?
According to whom you speak to these days you will hear a plethora of information about Margaret Sanger. But the one story that most don’t want to speak about her is the fact that she was proposing birth control etc. because she felt that certain people shouldn’t be allowed to continue breeding. Taken from the website BlackGenocide, Sanger said “Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying… demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism.” She wrote in the recently republished “The Pivot of Civilization.” This book, written in 1922, was published at a time when scientific racism had been used to assert black inferiority. So who determines who is a moron? And better yet how would these morons be segregated? She was on record stating that sterilization or birth prevention was necessary for those that she felt were unfit stating “it is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth, children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them.”
She was also reported to have been a believer in the eugenics project. Eugenicists believe that civilization can be enhanced through selective breeding. From its inception eugenics was supported by prominent people, including Alexander Graham Bell, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and of course Margaret Sanger. Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities. Funding was provided by prestigious sources such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and the Harriman family (taken from Wikipedia). Having these beliefs she stated that: “inferior races were human weeds and a menace to civilization.”
Ms. Sanger died in 1966 but she did get her wish of having her creation Planned Parenthood seen as a liberal helper to the black community. People who undoubtedly find her a heroine of modern day women’s rights will charge that she was not involved with the eugenics movement. But not only did she never refute them she made remarks that would classify her as a racist in her own right. Also, her publication called The Birth Control Review founded in 1917 published pro-eugenics articles by known eugenicists such as Ernst Rudin on a regular basis. The eugenics movement was all about improving the hereditary qualities of a race or breed by controlling mating in order to eliminate “undesirable” characteristics and promote “desirable” traits. Also espousing that “all children born, beyond what would be required to keep up the population to a desired level, must necessarily perish, unless room is made for them by the deaths of grown persons. We should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality” according to An Essay on the Principle of Population, published in six editions from 1798 to 1826 by Thomas Robert Malthus, The principal of Malthus Eugenics.
Sanger gave this address called “A Plan for Peace,” before the New History Society on January 17, 1932, in New York City Margaret Sanger, as printed in the “The Birth Control Review, April 1932, 107.” Sanger suggested Congress set up a special department to study population problems and appoint a “Parliament of Population.” One of the main objectives of the “Population Congress” would be “to raise the level and increase the general intelligence of population.” This would be accomplished by applying a “stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation [in addition to tightening immigration laws] to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.” It’s reasonable to conclude that as the leader of Planned Parenthood – even after 1929 – Sanger would not allow publication of ideas she didn’t support. Sanger’s defenders argue she only wanted to educate blacks about birth control’s “health benefits.” However, she counted the very people she wanted to “educate” among the “unfit,” whose numbers needed to be restricted.
Grant presents other arguments Sanger’s supporters use to refute her racist roots:
Blacks, Jews, Hispanics and other minorities are well represented in the “upper echelons” of Planned Parenthood Federation of America;
The former, high-profile president of the organization, Faye Wattleton, is a black woman;
“Aggressive” minority hiring practices have been standard procedure for more than two decades;
The “vast majority of the nation’s ethnic leadership solidly and actively supports the work” of the organization.
(From the Negro Project found on CWA)
Writer Walter A. Terpenning, another eugenicist, wrote an article for The Birth Control Review, June 1932, where he described bringing a black child into a hostile world as “pathetic.” In his article “God’s Chillun,” he wrote:
The birth of a colored child, even to parents who can give it adequate support, is pathetic in view of the unchristian and undemocratic treatment likely to be accorded it at the hands of a predominantly white community, and the denial of choice in propagation to this unfortunate class is nothing less than barbarous.
I will leave off on that little tidbit of repugnant thinking. This is just the tip of the iceberg with Margaret Sanger and the eugenicists that I just have to write more about. Let me just say that I am not opposed to birth control or abortion in anyway. But the origins of the two sure make you think about some things. I will be writing another article to continue the mad thinking of this founder of Planned Parenthood and her Eugenics friends, since there are a number of books that have come out in the last ten years that seems to have revived some of the eugenic thinking.