NEW YORK — Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) has announced that it will remove founder Margaret Sanger’s name from its Manhattan facility bearing her namesake, and is also working with city council to rename Margaret Sanger Square, due to her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”
The organization says that “the announcement reflects the first of many organizational shifts to address Sanger’s legacy and system of institutional racism, which negatively impacts the well-being of patients, staff and PPGNY’s broader communities.”
“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,” Karen Seltzer, board chair of PPGNY, said in a statement.
“Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy,” she said. “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 abortion facility on Bleecker Street had heretofore been named the Margaret Sanger Health Center, and a street sign currently marks the intersection of Bleecker and Mott Streets in recognizing Sanger.
However, the organization did not disavow the practice of abortion and will continue to offer its services to end the lives of the unborn. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, 53,394 abortions were performed in New York City alone in 2017.
As previously reported, Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in New York in 1921, which was originally known as the American Birth Control League. She later changed the name as some found it offensive.
Sanger generally opposed abortion, writing in her 1920 book “Woman and the New Race” that “the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.”
Her solution to countering abortion was birth control, as she believed that “[t]he most immoral practice of the day is breeding too many children.” She claimed that children get lost in large families and end up in jail or as prostitutes.
Sanger was also a proponent of eugenics against the physically and mentally disabled, as she made a correlation between birth control and the purification of the human race. She additionally called for the sterilization of women in the “moron class,” referring to those with disabilities as being “morons,” “idiots” and “imbeciles.”
“Back then they used words like ‘moron’ and ‘imbecile,’ these were actually scientific terms, and classifying people according to their IQ. And she said women in these classes were not capable of being mothers, and therefore shouldn’t be mothers,” her grandson, Alex Sanger, told Vox in 2016, explaining that he disagreed with her position but otherwise admired Sanger. “She also talked about women with certain inherited diseases like epilepsy or alcoholism — they shouldn’t be mothers, because they’re going to pass these genes onto their children.”
“Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives,” Sanger wrote in the aforementioned “Woman and the New Race”. “If we are to make racial progress, this development of womanhood must precede motherhood in every individual woman.”
Sanger launched the Negro Project in 1939, offering birth control in African American communities — especially in the South, where there was significant poverty yet multiple children in a household. She thought that cutting down on the number of children born would better the economic status of a region and consequently the quality of life for society as a whole.
According to New York University, Sanger’s secretary, Florence Rose, wrote a report on “Birth Control and the Negro”, in which she opined that “negroes present the great problem of the South,” because they have “the greatest economic, health and social problems” yet “still breed carelessly and disastrously.”
“‘Constructive’ eugenics aims to arouse the enthusiasm or the interest of the people in the welfare of the world fifteen or twenty generations in the future. On its negative side it shows us that we are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all — that the wealth of individuals and of states is being diverted from the development and the progress of human expression and civilization,” Sanger also remarked in the 1922 publication “The Pivot of Civilization”.
“Birth control which has been criticized as negative and destructive, is really the greatest and most truly eugenic method, and its adoption as part of the program of eugenics would immediately give a concrete and realistic power to that science,” she continued. “As a matter of fact, birth control has been accepted by the most clear thinking and far seeing of the eugenists themselves as the most constructive and necessary of the means to racial health.”
2 Corinthians 5:15 states that Christ “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.”
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