Denying Margaret Sanger’s embrace of eugenics “is a pathetic and desperate attempt to rewrite history”

By Dave Andrusko

Margaret Sanger

When I read interim Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, I immediately thought of the post her predecessor (the one whom PPFA sacked for insufficient abortion militancy) wrote that hewed closely to PPFA’s standard free-wheeling contempt for facts.

As you may remember, earlier this year, the now-recently departed Dr. Leana Wen was hammered by The Washington Post’s principal Fact-Checker, Glen Kessler, for once again distorting the true number of women who died prior to Roe v. Wade. Wen had trotted out the tried and untrue assertion that “thousands” of women died before Justice Harry Blackmun came to their rescue with his opinions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

Kessler gave Dr. Wen “Four Pinocchios” for thrice peddling patently unsubstantiated claims that “thousands” of women died prior to 1973. [Pro-abortionists often allege 5,000, but evidently Wen balked at his nonsensical statement.]

Johnson has a task almost as unenviable as regurgitating PPFA’s lies about abortion deaths: rehabilitating the legacy of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger who not only was herself a eugenicist but ran in the circles where all the “right people” felt the same.

First, the context. Johnson was responding to a post by William McGurn who demolished the idiotic notion that pro-lifers “were in bed” with White Nationalists.

In her response, headlined “In defense of Margaret Sanger on Eugenics,” Johnson charged that “McGurn’s description of Planned Parenthood founder founder Margaret Sanger’s ‘Negro Project’ is callous and incorrect.”

A full answer to this specific issue (the “Negro Project”) would take pages. After first encouraging you to read Ryan Bomberger’s thorough rebuttal of Johnson, which we have reposted, let me offer just two additional points.

First, as Angela Franks wrote in an analysis for NRL News Today,

Sanger was so committed to eugenics that she was a lifelong member of the American Eugenics Society. This gives the lie to another argument by Sanger supporters, namely, that Sanger’s support of eugenics was merely pragmatic. She didn’t really believe it, they say, but she put up with eugenicists to get their support. But no one reading Sanger’s personal letters can think she was anything but what she said she was: a eugenicist.

Just to give one example: in 1955, she wrote her niece complaining about the shift in rhetoric from “birth control” (which was her preferred term, because it emphasized the control of the “unfit”) to “family planning.” She writes, “I see no wider meaning of family planning than control and as for restriction, there are definitely some families throughout the world where there is every indication that restriction should be an order as (well as) an ideal for the betterment of the family and the race.”

Second, eugenics is not only embedded in Planned Parenthood’s DNA, it lives on in the “best people” today. To quote McGurn’s Wall Street Journal column

[W]ho was it who said frankly that the Supreme Court legalized abortion in part because it was concerned about “growth in populations that we do not want too many of?”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has tried to walk back her remark because of its plainly eugenic implications. But that’s the point. Eugenics have been used to justify abortion from the start.

Let me end with Mr. Bomberger’s fiery conclusion:

Johnson’s denial of basic historical facts is a pathetic and desperate attempt to rewrite history and project Planned Parenthood’s own inherent racism. An industry that was inarguably birthed in eugenic racism and elitism somehow wants people to believe that the leading killer of black lives isn’t practicing systemic racism but “reproductive justice.”