Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced last Tuesday that it will be removing the name of Margaret Sanger, the organization’s founder, from its lower Manhattan branch due to her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”
“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” said Karen Seltzer, Board Chair at PPGNY. “Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy. There is overwhelming evidence for Sanger’s deep belief in eugenic ideology, which runs completely counter to our values at PPGNY. Removing her name is an important step toward representing who we are as an organization and who we serve.”
The clinic that had been named after Sanger will now be known as the Manhattan Health Center. Planned Parenthood also announced it will work with the Community Board, City Council and community to rename an honorary street sign that marks the “Margaret Sanger Square” at the intersection of Bleecker and Mott Streets in Manhattan.
Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood 103 years ago. Detractors of abortion point to Sanger’s eugenicist views. Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, which aimed to improve human hereditary traits through social intervention by reducing the reproduction of those who were considered unfit. Among those she deemed “unfit” were the religious, who she described as “irresponsible and reckless” regarding their choice to have children. Sanger would not have fit in well with current Democrat policy as she advocated for strong exclusionary immigration policies.
Four years ago, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America came out with a statement saying it was wrong of Sanger to speak to the Ku Klux Klan in 1926 and to support the sterilization of the disabled and “placing so-called illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes and dope fiends on farms and in open spaces as long as necessary for the strengthening and development of moral conduct.”
In 2016, the national organization issued a fact sheet saying that while it denounced some of Sanger’s beliefs, it defended her as well-intentioned for trying to make birth control widely accessible.
Sanger was also a vocal proponent of Buck v. Bell, the 1927 Supreme Court decision that declared constitutional the forced sterilization of the “unfit.” That ruling allowed the maiming via the involuntary hysterectomy of thousands of black women in the Jim Crow South.
These recent moves are part of the organization’s three-year Reviving Radical initiative intended to:
- Reckon with Planned Parenthood’s legacy and contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color.
- Divest from and dismantle white dominant organizational cultural norms and values.
- Adopt Individual and Institutional practices that value people of color.
- Center communities of color voice, experience and knowledge of self.
- Build accountable relationships with communities of color.
The initiative was intended to address a negative image Planned Parenthood has of targeting minorities. In New York City, where Planned Parenthood is headquartered, far more black babies are aborted than are born alive (1,180 abortions for every 1,000 live births). the Centers for Disease Control point out that nearly half of all pregnancies among black women end in abortion (472 per 1,000), while among white women only 16 percent of pregnancies are aborted (161 per 1,000).
In fact, the abortion rate for black women is 36%, almost five times that for white women. Abortion is the number one killer of black lives in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abortion kills more black people than HIV, homicide, diabetes, accident, cancer, and heart disease combined.
In 2008, Issues4Life Foundation, a faith-based organization that targets and works with African-American leaders toward achieving the goal of “zero African-American lives lost to abortion or biotechnology”, wrote to the Congressional Black Caucus to denounce Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its “racist and eugenic goals”, calling for the organization to be defunded.
In fact, the organization intentionally caters to minorities and women of color. A study by Protecting Black Lives, in 2012, found that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority communities.
Abortions make up 95% of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy resolutions services, and for every adoption referral, Planned Parenthood performed nearly 81 abortions during the 2018-2019 reporting year. Planned Parenthood affiliates, the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S., performed 345,672 abortions from October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018—the highest number of abortions ever reported in a single year. Heritage Organization reported that all other services provided by Planned Parenthood, including breast exams and birth control services, were down in the same period. This was made possible through $616.8 million in taxpayer funding, up from $563.8 million in 2018. And more abortions mean more money, with $1.6 billion in total revenue.