By Dave Andrusko
It’s been a long, long three or four years for Planned Parenthood. We’ve posted story after story about the intra-mural battles within Planned Parenthood which (to put it in the mildest possible terms) do not put the nation’s leading “provider” of abortion in the best possible light even among its supporters.
That along with a reluctant confrontation with their founder Margaret Sanger’s embrace of eugenics has been a rough patch of water. After all, they insisted for decade after decade Sanger was just a “product of her time” when the elites were gung-ho to “improve the human race through selective breeding,” as a 2019 New York Times article described it.
But what about the explosive racism charge? As an op-ed from Alexis McGill Johnson, the current CEO, put it this weekend, “Whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question.”
More about McGill Johnson’s op-ed in a moment.
Consider this. When PPFA sacked Dr. Leana Wen in 2019, it was because she wasn’t tunnel-visioned enough for the political operatives. It was not abortion, abortion, abortion in her mind; Planned Parenthood was supposed to be about providing actual health care, she said. That Dr. Wen was a woman of color made it even more difficult, since Planned Parenthood’s major affiliates had witnessed revolts from women of color in places like New York and Kansas, as we reported.
The tipping point may have been that July 21, 2020, New York Times piece in which it was unveiled (as the headline put it) “Planned Parenthood in N.Y. Disavows Margaret Sanger Over Eugenics.” PPFA had tap-danced around Sanger’s embrace of eugenics but now it was in the open—and in what amounts to the Abortion Movement’s house organ.
According to reporter Nikita Stewart, “Planned Parenthood of Greater New York will remove the name of Margaret Sanger, a founder of the national organization, from its Manhattan health clinic because of her ‘harmful connections to the eugenics movement,’ the group said on Tuesday.”
Fast forward to an op-ed piece appearing in the Times over the weekend written by McGill Johnson, Cecile Richards’ successor as PPFA’s President and CEO. Her initial sentence cuts to the chase: “We need to talk about Margaret Sanger.”
From our single-issue vantage point, what’s particularly fascinating is her more straightforward disavowal of Sanger’s highly checkered history but also the vow of “making Margaret Sanger less prominent in our present and future.” Meaning? Among other things, moving past their “history of focusing on white womanhood relentlessly,” a criticism that has only grown more vocal in the last few years.
But then there’s this from McGill Johnson. Planned Parenthood “must take up less space, and lend more support” to “fights that advance an agenda other than our own.” Does “taking up less space” mean that PPFA’s political action arms will be less involved in electing pro-abortion politicians?
Of course not.
If they fulfill the promise of “making Margaret Sanger less prominent in our present and future,” will that mean that a wildly disproportion number of their clinics will no longer be in urban areas or not that far away?
Of course not. Killing unborn babies is their bread and butter all under the guise of “increasing access.”
And if, as McGill Johnson writes, “We are establishing new diversity, equity and inclusion standards for affiliates seeking to be a part of the Planned Parenthood Federation,” will that mean that PPFA, which bills itself as specializing in “reproductive health care,” suddenly begin to provide services such infertility treatments, mammograms, and full service prenatal and complete obstetrical care which are rare to non-existent?
Of course not.
Likewise, (as Carole Novielli noted) “while Planned Parenthood commits 41% of the abortions in the United States every year (over 350,000), it actually only serves around 3% of the female population of reproductive age. ” With that mind, will McGill Johnson’s assurances that ” Our reckoning is understanding her [Sanger’s] full legacy, and its impact” mean that 3% becomes 6% or 9%?
If anything, the opposite is more likely. “[A] closer look at previous patients’ numbers reveals that clients at Planned Parenthood have actually declined 20% from the 3 million it claimed to serve in 2009 and over 27% percent since its 1996-1997 annual report (3.3 million clients).”
Obviously, I’m not an insider, but I’d wager that in throwing Sanger under the bus, McGill Johnson is simply trying to get ahead of the curve, to beat the next wave of internal criticism which shows no signs of abating.
Finally, the story that followed the headline to her New York Times piece—“I’m the Head of Planned Parenthood. We’re Done Making Excuses for Our Founder”—is not as absolute as you’d think.
But one thing you know for sure. Planned Parenthood will never make excuses for aborting over 300,000 unborn babies each and every year.
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