Was Planned Parenthood’s Founder Racist?

The true story of a much-maligned heroine of women’s rights
History • Views: 33,619

Here’s a very interesting and enlightening piece about one of the right wing’s most demonized figures: Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood: Was Planned Parenthood’s founder racist?

Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger is back in the news this week thanks to GOP presidential candidate and abortion rights opponent Herman Cain, who claimed on national television that Planned Parenthood, the visionary global movement she founded nearly a century ago, is really about one thing only: “preventing black babies from being born.” Cain’s outrageous and false accusation is actually an all too familiar canard — a willful repetition of scurrilous claims that have circulated for years despite detailed refutation by scholars who have examined the evidence and unveiled the distortions and misrepresentations on which they are based (for a recent example, see this rebuttal from The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler).

It’s an old tactic. Even in her own day, Sanger endured deliberate character assassination by opponents who believed they would gain more traction by impugning her character and her motives than by debating the merits of her ideas. But when a presidential candidate from a major U.S. political party is saying such things, a thoughtful response is necessary.

So what is Sanger’s story?

Born Margaret Louisa Higgins in 1879, the middle child of a large Irish Catholic family, Sanger grew into a follower of labor organizers, free thinkers and bohemians. Married to William Sanger, an itinerant architect and painter, she helped support three young children by working as a visiting nurse on New York’s Lower East Side. Following the death of a patient from a then all-too-common illegal abortion, she vowed to abandon palliative work and instead overturn obscenity laws that prevented legal access to safe contraception.

Sanger’s fundamental heresy was in claiming every woman’s right to experience her sexuality freely and bear only the number of children she desires. Following a first generation of educated women who had proudly forgone marriage in order to seek fulfillment outside the home, she offered birth control as a necessary condition to the resolution of a broad range of personal and professional frustrations.

The hardest challenge in introducing Sanger to modern audiences, who take this idea for granted, is to explain how absolutely destabilizing it seemed in her own time. As a result of largely private arrangements and a healthy trade in condoms, douches and various contraptions sold under the subterfuge of feminine hygiene, birth rates had already begun to decline. But contraception remained a clandestine and delicate subject, legally banned under obscenity statutes, and women were still largely denied identities or rights independent of their relationships with men, including the right to vote.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Donate with
PayPal
Square Cash Shop at amazon
as an LGF Associate!
Recent PagesClick to refresh
a Handshake That “Trump’s” the Rest.blog.timesunion.com (The full blog with pictures and videos is available if you click on the above link Thanks.) It seems that everything President Trump does on a daily basis becomes fodder for the news. I can consciously remember at least ...
rhoffman
2 hours, 3 minutes ago
Views: 279 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
The World’s First Feminist? If you ask a feminist today who her idol is, she might say Simone de Beauvoir. But if you had asked the French intellectual, she would probably have told you it was Christine de Pizan — a woman from ...
Birth Control Works
19 hours, 41 minutes ago
Views: 238 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
‘Politically Correct’ NY Times Hides Horror of Female Genital Mutilation But it has spread to Europe and other parts of the world too. The European Commission estimates that hundreds of thousands of women living in Europe have been subjected to FGM and thousands more are at risk. The Center ...
Birth Control Works
20 hours, 8 minutes ago
Views: 329 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
TRUMPON Venture Announced, to Compete With GROUPON! FAKE NEWS TIME reports that the White House has announced the upcoming launch of TRUMPON, which will compete with GROUPON! The TRUMPON mobile App will make great deals available to all Americans! At a White House Press Conference, Press ...
yourefiredbefore2020
23 hours, 33 minutes ago
Views: 618 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
DHS Public Database Includes Personal Information of Abuse Victims The Trump administration's effort to highlight crimes committed by undocumented immigrants has become a nightmare for immigrant victims of abuse, with the personal information of undocumented victims appearing in a publicly searchable database launched last month by the Department ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 3 hours ago
Views: 288 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Heroes - King Crimson Live in Berlin "King Crimson performed Heroes at the Admiralspalast in Berlin as a celebration, a remembrancing and an homage. The concert was thirty nine years and one month after the original sessions at the Hansa Tonstudio overlooking the Berlin Wall. This ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 9 hours ago
Views: 318 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address c-span.org I'm old enough that I actually remember watching this live on TV. At the time, I knew even at the tender age of 11 (to be age 12 before the month was out, and my entire world view ...
Backwoods_Sleuth
1 day, 10 hours ago
Views: 377 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
Deluxe Cheesecake Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients For the crust 1 cup flour (120 grams) ¼ teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest ½ cup (1 stick) butter (113 grams), chilled and cubed 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten ¼ teaspoon vanilla For the filling 5 ...
The Vicious Babushka
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 400 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Norah Jones - Black Hole Sun (Detroit Fox Theatre 5.23.17)Norah paid tribute to Chris Cornell at Detroit’s Fox Theatre with ‘Black Hole Sun.’ Filmed by: Ed Davis
Tarkloon
1 day, 15 hours ago
Views: 385 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
GAME of THRONES Season 7 Trailer (2017)Here is the first Trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7
Tarkloon
1 day, 15 hours ago
Views: 382 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0