We Shouldn’t Be Surprised at Planned Parenthood’s Callous Inhumanity

While Kirsten Powers’ outrage at Planned Parenthood is well justified, it’s not anything new to those familiar with the organization’s ugly, racist, eugenicist history. And despite attempts by the group to downplay it, the behavior on display on those videos is (as the president said recently in a different context, but much more accurately in this case) “in Planned Parenthood’s DNA.”

About a century ago, Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization, created a journal called Birth Control Review. In it, she published numerous papers on the need for purifying the race through selective breeding and culling. Some of the titles included “Some Moral Aspects of Eugenics” (June 1920), “The Eugenic Conscience” (February 1921), “The Purpose of Eugenics” (December 1924), “Birth Control and Positive Eugenics” (July 1925),  and “Birth Control: The True Eugenics” (August 1928). From her own childhood experience, Sanger believed that overpopulation was the source of most societal ills, writing that she “…associated poverty, toil, unemployment, drunkenness, cruelty, quarreling, fighting, debts, jails with large families.”

While many, then and now, might agree with that sentiment, she took it much further. In her seminal book Women and the New Race, she wrote that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” When it came to a one-child policy, China had nothing on her. In 1932, she proposed three totalitarian rules:

Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies…and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.

Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…

Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.

A couple years later, she proposed that society must “…give dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.”

While what she viewed as “bad genes” or “unfit” was clearly in the mind of the beholder, she displayed no apparent discomfort in the racist views of many of her colleagues. For example, S. Adolphus Knopf, a member of her American Birth Control League (a predecessor to Planned Parenthood), warned of the “black and yellow peril.” Another was Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White Supremacy, who later lauded the Nazi eugenics program (aka The Holocaust) as “scientific” and “humanitarian.” And it is clear that she herself viewed blacks as a population that must be controlled. In 1922, she proposed enlisting them in the cause of their own eugenic solution, writing that:

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the 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 to any of their more rebellious members.