By Dave Andrusko
Six years ago, NRLC’s Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon reviewed “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy,” the outstanding work by Angela Franks, then a doctoral student (www.nrlc.org/news/2005/NRL04/Sanger.html).
He perceptively observed, “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy is a scholarly, yet readable analysis of the starkly eugenic ideology that drove Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and those who shared her ideas. Angela Franks accomplishes a great deal in her book but perhaps nothing more important than helping the reader grasp why the movement slid so quickly and so easily into forced sterilization, abortion, and infanticide.”
Well, it is now Dr. Franks, and yesterday she wrote a trenchant, keen analysis of a new book which essentially whitewashes Sanger’s deep immersion in eugenics (www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/01/4445).
Dr. Franks describes “Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion,” by Jean H. Baker, as “a bit of a scholarly throwback. “ By that she means while Sanger still gets a lot of uncritical treatment, it’s no longer all sweetness and light.
[P]robably the most crucial factor in bringing about a more realistic and balanced assessment of Sanger and eugenics has been the internet. Sanger’s own words are more accessible than ever (a process aided by the multivolume edition of The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger). Planned Parenthood is simply unable to deny convincingly the truth about its founder.
You can read Dr. Franks’ review of Baker’s all-too-gentle treatment of Sanger in five to eight minutes, and you will be glad you did. Let me make two points here.
As Dr. Franks makes clear (and buttresses her argument by quoting from pro-abortion feminist author Linda Gordon), there was and is a close alignment of the eugenics movement and the population control movement.
“Why were the two movements so closely aligned? The key can be found in a popular slogan of the eugenics/population-control crowd: ‘Quality, not quantity.’ Eugenicists believed that, in order to improve the race, fewer people (only the so-called ‘fit’) should reproduce. In its 1927 Buck v. Bell decision, written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the Supreme Court ruled that compulsory sterilization of the ‘unfit’ was allowable under the Constitution, enabling American states to sterilize, on a far greater scale, those citizens deemed unfit, without their consent and sometimes even without their knowledge.”
Their ideology—and it IS an ideology—is shot through with racist assumptions, which is why they were so comfortable with involuntary sterilization. We forget that we were not immune. In the United States, “In the end, a majority of states allowed for involuntary sterilization, leading to over 60,000 sterilizations by 1967,” Franks notes.
But what to do “about the great mass of people outside her borders?” Franks writes.
“The Rockefeller family, deeply immersed in eugenics, financially supported the earliest eugenic population-control organizations, such as the Population Council. This was done quietly, however; as Frances Hand Ferguson, a former president of Planned Parenthood in America, observed, ‘Certainly the Rockefellers didn’t want to be known as a family who was telling little brown Indians not to have babies.’ Population control was a gussied-up eugenics—with a passport.”
Or, as Franks writes near the end of her review, “eugenics is all about one thing: control, the control of benighted masses by an enlightened elite.”
Take a few minutes and read Dr. Franks’ review at www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/01/4445. You’ll be glad you did.
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