So, I tweeted to Candidate & Self-Certified Eyeball Doctor Rand Paul in response to his “crusade” to destroy Planned Parenthood, and triggered an avalanche of Derp
The Internet is full of memes about birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger, portraying her as a racist, a eugenicist, a KKK and nazi sympathizer or a combination of all of these.
An African-American activist has looked into Sanger’s past to find the facts behind the memes.
Compiled by Anna Holley, SisterSong Intern - July 2010
Opponents of abortion promote myths and half-truths about Margaret Sanger in the African American community and elsewhere. This brief research summation is meant to dispel such falsified information distributed by those opposed to abortion and who are determined to distort her impressive historical legacy of enabling reproductive freedom for all women as a pioneering advocate for birth control. Sanger’s opponents use quotes taken out of context, exaggerations and outright falsehoods to paint a grim and racist picture of Sanger. It is important that we, as African American women, examine the historical evidence for ourselves to avoid the pitfalls of historical revisionism. While some falsify the evidence, others attempt to whitewash uncomfortable facts. We consulted with experts on Sanger’s life, reviewed primary historical source documents, and received valuable assistance from the archivists at Smith College and New York University.
Sanger’s Campaign for Birth Control
Having grown up in a progressive household, Margaret Sanger began to question the medical industry as a result of her mother’s death of tuberculosis in 1896. Shortly after, she began challenging medical ignorance. Sanger trained as a nurse and began working in the slums of New York City. From working in desperate conditions, Sanger had the opportunity to observe the hardships of poor mothers who pleaded for information on controlling their fertility. Convinced that the lack of birth control and oversized families were a primary cause of poverty, Sanger became a social radical and joined the Socialist Party. After publishing a monthly newspaper advising women to limit the size of their families, she was arrested and fled to Europe to continue her research on birth control methods. Because of the 1875 Comstock Law prohibiting the spread of information about contraceptives in the U.S., information was more freely available in Europe.
Upon her return to the United States in 1916, she moved back to New York City to open up a birth control clinic in the slums. Yet again, she was arrested and spent a month in prison with her sister who acted as her partner. Spending time in prison only encouraged Sanger to intensify her work. She began lecturing more, raising money, and writing for her new publication: Birth Control Review, where she encouraged liberalization of state and federal laws regarding fertility control. By 1930, she had established fifty-five birth control clinics across the country. Reaching worldwide fame, Sanger spoke at the first World Population Conference in Geneva, Switzerland and continued to push the United States government to allow for easier distribution of contraceptives and sex education.
The American Birth Control Movement finally gained public approval by 1940. As her last act in the movement, she founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1946. Today, Margaret Sanger’s accomplishments are recognized in a different light used to fuel anti-abortion activism across the country. Without acknowledging the complexities of the time, her work is often deemed pro-genocide and racist. However, her words and actions are often taken out of context instead of revealing a complicated woman and her true dedication to women’s lives.
Margaret Sanger’s Core Principles
- A woman's right to control her body is the foundation of her human rights
- Every person should decide when to have a child
- Every child should be wanted and loved
- Women deserve sexual pleasure and fulfillment
Eugenics and African Americans
When the movement for birth control began, organizers like Margaret Sanger believed that fertility control was linked to upward social mobility for all women, regardless of race or immigrant status.
Because the medical establishment largely opposed birth control, Sanger initially emphasized woman-controlled methods that did not depend on medical assistance. Her arguments persuaded middle-class women, both Black and white, to use birth control when available.
Sanger’s immediate effect on African American women was to help transform their covert support for and use of family planning into the visible public support of activists in the Club Movement. But African-American women envisioned an even more pointed concept of reproductive justice: the freedom to have, or not to have, children.
The early feminism of the birth control movement, which promoted equality and reproductive rights for all women regardless or race or economic status, collapsed under the weight of support offered by the growing number of nativist whites. Under the influence of eugenicists, Sanger changed her approach, as did other feminists.
In 1919, Sanger’s American Birth Control League began to rely heavily for legitimacy on medical doctors and the growing eugenics movement. The eugenics movement provided scientific and authoritative language that legitimated women’s right to contraception. This co-optation of the birth control movement produced racist depopulation policies and doctor-controlled birth control technology.
Birth control was demanded as a right and an option for privileged women, but through public policy at the hands of the government, it became an obligation for the poor.
Sanger launched the Negro Project, designed by Sanger’s Birth Control Federation in 1939. It hired several African-American ministers to travel through the South to recruit African-American doctors. The project proposal included a quote by W.E.B. Dubois, saying that “the mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among Whites, is from that part of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.” This quote, often mistakenly attributed to Sanger, reflected the shared race and class biases of the project’s founders. The Negro Project relied on Black ministers because of its white sponsors’ belief that “the most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal.”
Among the quotations frequently and incorrectly credited to Sanger is, “More children from the fit, less from the unfit—that is the chief issue of birth control.” It is so widely misattributed to her that it appeared on the wall of an International Center for Photography exhibit on eugenics. Another common offender showed up in a recent fundraising letter from Priests for Life: “Colored people are like human weeds and have to be exterminated.” The historian Esther Katz, director of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project at New York University, explains that Sanger never said anything of the sort.
“According to the ‘Black genocide’ movement, Sanger worked in cahoots with the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis to advance a theory of White supremacy and forced sterilization. The truth is more complicated than this caricature. Sanger did embrace ideas about eugenics that were popular in the 1920s; the eugenics movement offered her legitimacy, says [Ellen] Chesler, adding that
‘Margaret Sanger had no choice but to engage eugenics. It was a mainstream movement, like public health or the environment today. It was to sanitize birth control and remove it from the taint of immorality and the taint of feminism, which was seen as an individualistic and antisocial group that addressed the needs of women only, and immoral women at that’” [Italics in original].
Conservatives Frustrated by GOP’s Drop in Working Women’s Votes, But Keep Promoting Anti-Women Policies
The trend that worries conservative thinker Sabrina Schaeffer is this: Three elections ago, nearly half of all working mothers chose George W. Bush. In 2008, the share dropped to 40 percent for Sen. John McCain. By 2012, only about a third backed Mitt Romney.
But even more alarming to Schaeffer is that few, if any, of the current presidential candidates have made the needs of female breadwinners a centerpiece of their campaigns.
“For years now, Democrats have been saying: We are focused on women in the workplace,” said Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, a nonprofit organization that promotes conservative policies. “For whatever reason, Republicans keep ignoring these issues. It’s the absolute worst thing they can do. They need to understand, engage and offer better solutions. They can’t be afraid.”
Schaeffer is among a chorus of conservatives who have grown frustrated — and increasingly vocal — about the lack of proposals from GOP candidates that could help reverse this exodus of swing voters from the party.
These conservatives say Republicans have an opportunity to exploit new proposals in Washington that have been embraced by influential right-wing policymakers and economists.
But some Republican strategists say that many of the candidates are planning to wait until after the primary to take up such ideas, so as to not prematurely alienate social conservatives who think families are better off when one parent stays home. That has dismayed some in the party who view the matter as urgent, especially with Hillary Rodham Clinton looming as the likely Democratic nominee.
“Every parent who works has been through the day-care nightmare,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was the senior economic policy adviser to McCain (R-Ariz.) during the 2008 election. “This has been underappreciated by Republican candidates in part and conservatives in general. They think this stuff is automatic.”
Although several of the Republican candidates have long supported expanding the child tax credit, some conservative women leaders say that idea may not be enough to compete with Democrats.
Right-leaning policymakers have been floating other proposals. An economist at the American Enterprise Institute has recommended allowing pregnant workers to claim part of their tax refund early to fund their maternity leave. A Heritage Foundation economist has proposed loosening labor regulations so parents can easily swap overtime pay for compensation days. Others are advocating for over-the-counter birth control.
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) wants to reward companies with a 25-cent tax credit for every dollar spent on its employees’ family or medical leave.
All of these policies hurt women, but help corporations.
1. Replace paid overtime with compensation time off.
This is bullshit, because employers can deny employees time off while not paying them for overtime.
2. Over the counter birth control.
Which a woman worker would have to pay for out of pocket instead of it being covered by her health insurance.
3. Tax credit to corporations for allowing employees to take paid medical leave and family leave.
So who gets the benefit here? THE JERB CREEYATERZ!!!!!
4. Equal pay
Are you fucking kidding me?
Think the anti choice movement is bad? Think the Quiverfull movement is bad? Wait until you read this post by Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch.
The sex abuse scandal engulfing the Duggar family has put yet another unwanted spotlight on Quiverfull, the radical self-proclaimed Christian “patriarchy” movement of which the Duggars are the most prominent spokespeople. But what is too often missed in the fascination over Quiverfull beliefs and the lives of its reality-star adherents is how closely this radical anti-feminist ideology is tied to the policy priorities of the anti-choice Right and its increasingly vocal opposition to contraception access.
The Quiverfull ideology, as Kathryn Joyce explained in her fascinating book “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement,” is shared by a loose coalition of families living out a theology of “male headship and female submissiveness” in which a woman is expected to submit fully to her husband’s leadership while giving birth to, raising and homeschooling as many children as possible in order to repopulate the Earth with what one proponent called “warriors for God.”
If you’ve read the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby or the reaction to it, then you know what sparked the lawsuit. The Affordable Care Act says that employer-provided insurance must include essential health benefits, including all medically authorized forms of contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to this requirement, because they believe that four common forms of birth control — two versions of the “morning-after pill” and two kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs) — are “abortifacients.” In other words, the owners of Hobby Lobby think these contraceptives end pregnancies rather than prevent them. And they believe that is tantamount to ending a life.
The claim, which you can find on virtually any conservative website, has been making the rounds for a long time. It’s stuck because the science on how these particular drugs and devices work wasn’t that great. But recent advances in medical diagnostics and some ingenious studies have changed that. We know a lot more about how the contraceptives work. We can be very confident that three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, even using the conservative definition of when life begins, and we can be almost (although not quite) as sure that the fourth does not, either.
There are essentially six ways to prevent pregnancy:
- Make the cervical mucus inhospitable (sperm can't get to the egg)
- Inhibit ovulation (prevent the release of an egg)
- Affect fertilization (the ability of the sperm to meet up with and/or penetrate the egg).
- Affect the fertilized egg (prevent implantation)
- Create an inhospitable uterine environment (prevent implantation)
- Affect the implanted embryo
As far as the medical establishment is concerned, pregnancy doesn’t begin until implantation. (In fact, 80% of fertilized eggs never implant.) So under this “medical” definition of pregnancy, only method number 6 — that is, doing something to the implanted embryo — would constitute a form of abortion. But religious conservatives hold that pregnancy and life itself begin at the moment an egg is fertilized. Under the “religious” definition of pregnancy, methods 4, 5 and 6 would all constitute forms of abortion.
What does that mean for the four types of contraception at issue in the Hobby Lobby case? Let’s consider each one.
This is a (sometimes NSFW) webcomic on the Escapist Magazine site called Critical Miss. The focus is usually on games, but they dib-&-dab in social issues sometimes. Like today: Flat Earth Birth Control
From the first panel:
So, the supreme court has has decided that companies can use religious grounds to avoid paying health insurance claims for contraceptives.
Will this effect you?
No, because you’re mutants who will never experience human intimacy.
Sexist, mysogynist, and totally anti science is the best way I can describe this guy. I mean women on Birth Control have green blood? What “science” textbooks is this guy reading? How much do you want to bet that he’s also a creationist?
Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson warned his congregation recently that birth control was not only turning women into “whores,” it was also destroying the country.
Update 5/4/14: BillDilworth just pointed to a link that lead to a science journal article that pointed out that under some circumstances pregnant women and women on birth control can have green blood. Still obviously has nothing to do with being a “sinner,” and it doesn’t make them any less human.
While discussing women’s reproductive health and the government’s role in adminstering health care, a Republican state senator said he believes birth control is used by people “who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”
State Sen. Pete Kelly is pushing for a state-wide effort to combat and prevent fetal alcohol syndrome in Alaska by placing state-funded pregnancy test in bars, restaurants and private businesses. But when asked if he would offer the same resources for birth control, Kelly said he does not believe in increasing access to contraception because “the thinking is a little opposite.”
“Birth control is for people who don’t necessary want to act responsibly,” the lawmaker said in an interview with Anchorage Daily News. “I’m not going to tell them what to do or help them do it. That’s their business.”
When asked by the reporter if the act of using birth control itself was a responsible act, he disagreed with the notion.
“Maybe, maybe not,” Kelly replied. “That’s a level of social engineering we don’t want to get into.”
Social Engineering? —how does acknowledging the Right of Individual Choice of Parenthood become Social Engineering. I thought it only became Social Engineering when the State or a Religion mandated the use or non-use of contraception.
National Coalition of American Nuns Announces Support for Contraception Access via Obamacare - Cosmopolitan
Sister Donna Quinn, the head of NCAN, told religiondispatches.org that “it isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women.” She added, “It isn’t freedom when a woman can be held hostage by the owner of a business.” The petition (which is extremely close to reaching its goal of 5,000 signatures) also had this to say about religious freedom: “We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs; religious freedom cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the two cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius, next week. Both involve for-profit companies refusing to provide their employees with mandated coverage because the companies’ Christian owners do not believe in birth control. If that sounds stupid and terrible to you, that’s because it is.
The NCAN nuns, though, are amazing. Bravo to Sister Donna and her cohorts for taking a brave and positive stand on this issue.
Criswell and others were leading the charge in an impassioned crusade against legal abortion, creating one of the first evangelical-Catholic coalitions in American political history. But birth control didn’t come along for the ride; it remained, until recently, a matter of Catholic concern. Could the same evangelical reversal be taking place today—this time, with contraception?
Catholics and Protestants weren’t always at odds over the morality of birth control. In the late nineteenth century, it was Anthony Comstock, a fiery Protestant crusader against vice, who lobbied to criminalize contraception as part of a heretical trifecta that included abortion and pornography. The “Comstock laws” of the 1870s outlawed abortion and made it a federal and, in some cases, a state-offense to transport birth control through the mail or across state lines. The laws weren’t dislodged until 1965, when the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that restrictions on birth control access violated the “right to marital privacy, and 1973, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
A virulent wave of anti-Catholicism helped convince Protestant reformers that birth control was a moral imperative. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Catholic immigrants from southern Europe were pouring into the country, and native-born Protestants were troubled by the legions of offspring that was the norm for these newcomers. To white-collar Protestants living in east coast cities, large families were unseemly; children, once crucial sources of farm labor, were an expensive investment. Birth rates among “native-born white” (i.e. Protestant) women plummeted from 7.04 in 1800 to 3.13 in 1920, while the average Catholic woman was still having more than six children. If Catholics continued to reproduce at these rates, the country would be overrun by multitudes of “papists.” “There was a growing concern among Protestants that the wrong people were having too many children,” says Allan Carlson, a historian and the president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society. “They were thinking, maybe birth control is the best way to clean up the country and the human race.”