Abortion activists do their best to paint Planned Parenthood foundress Margaret Sanger in a positive light, but even they cannot totally ignore the troubling aspects of her life.
This week, Salon published a new article profiling artist Sabrina Jones who recently created a graphic novel about Sanger’s life called “Our Lady of Birth Control.” Jones, who supports abortion, Planned Parenthood and Sanger, said she “fell under the spell” of Sanger when she began working on comics about early 20th century radical movements.
“I was intrigued that such a great do-gooder was also quite a bad girl in private,” Jones said.
The Salon article described Sanger as a “radical activist” who had a “joyous lack of delicacy.” Jones said Sanger embraced the “free love” sexual lifestyle and had multiple affairs and marriages, but she kept her irresponsible lifestyle from the public eye. She continued:
The public Mrs. Sanger was impeccably ladylike, even soft-spoken, and emphasized the desperate need for birth control on behalf of the impoverished wives and mothers she cared for as a nurse. Devoted to giving women control over their own fertility, she was a neglectful mother and a faithless wife. I was intrigued that such a great do-gooder was also quite a bad girl in private.
The article also touched on Sanger’s advocacy for eugenics and the accusations that she was a racist; but Jones waved them off as bad press.
However, Angela Franks, PhD, who has studied Sanger’s life and writings extensively, said Sanger was an active eugenics proponent throughout her lifetime. Franks said Sanger’s eugenic goals pushed for birth control to help “weed out” the human beings who the movement deemed “unfit.”
Control, not choice, was Sanger’s key word when it came to matters of reproduction, Franks said. She said Sanger believed that some of the “unfit” should be forced to not reproduce.
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Sanger wrote in “The Pivot of Civilization” that the government should “attempt to restrain, either by force or by persuasion, the moron and the imbecile from producing his large family of feeble-minded offspring.”
Sanger’s goal, like many eugenicists, was to “weed out the unfit,” including the poor and the disabled, she said. Franks pointed to one particularly dehumanizing piece of Sanger’s writing from 1925: “… Their lives are hopeless repetitions. All that they have said has been said before; all that they have done has been done better before. Such human weeds clog up the path, drain up the energies and the resources of this little earth. We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden.”
Jones, however, contended that Sanger never advocated to force reproductive decisions on anyone. She said Sanger never promoted abortion, either.
“In fact, Sanger actively discouraged abortion, which she hoped to avoid through birth control, and Planned Parenthood never performed abortion during her lifetime,” Jones said.
Despite the evidence of Sanger’s poor character and immoral, discriminatory ideals, Jones persisted in describing the Planned Parenthood foundress in a positive way.
“She was a working class heroine, a racy bohemian and a tough-as-nails charmer who got results,” Jones said.
Sanger experts like Franks agree that Sanger did not promote abortions. Sanger died before Roe v. Wade was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, and abortion on demand through all nine months became the law of the land. However, Franks argued that Sanger’s eugenic advocacy paved the way for Planned Parenthood to become the abortion business that it is today.
The results of Sanger’s eugenic advocacy continue through Planned Parenthood today. The abortion group aborts almost 330,000 unborn babies every year – more than any other group in the U.S.