I'm including the following information from my book Prolife Answers to Prochoice Arguments, which contains many footnotes to the original sources. It isn't practical to include all these footnotes in a blog, but trust me, the quotes are directly from original publications, which I held in my own hands while researching this in the early 1990's. I thoroughly revised and updated the book several years ago, but it still contains this material.
If what follows seems like one of those slanderous internet hoaxes full of false claims (such as Barack Obama being Muslim), see Prolife Answers for all the footnotes, then go to a large library and check the source documents yourself. To be honest, I don't think I'd believe it if I hadn't done the research. Here we go:
Planned Parenthood’s abortion advocacy was rooted in the eugenics movement and its bias against the mentally and physically handicapped and minorities.
Margaret Sanger was the direction-setter and first president of Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion promoter and provider. Although in her earlier writings she condemned abortion, ultimately her organization ended up viewing abortion as just one more means of controlling the birthrate of those considered inferior. I have in front of me a stack of Sanger’s original writings, as well as copies of her magazine, Birth Control Review. I encourage readers to review these writings and decide for themselves the beliefs and attitudes that gave birth to Planned Parenthood and the American abortion movement.
Margaret Sanger spoke of the poor and handicapped as the “sinister forces of the hordes of irresponsibility and imbecility,” claiming their existence constituted an “attack upon the stocks of intelligence and racial health.” She warned of “indiscriminate breeding” among the less fit that would bring into the world future voters “who may destroy our liberties, and who may thus be the most far-reaching peril to the future of civilization." She called the less privileged members of society “a dead weight of human waste.”
In a chapter called the “Cruelty of Charity,” Sanger argued that groups dedicated to helping pregnant women decide to give birth to their children were “positively injurious to the community and the future of the race.” She claimed, “the effect of maternity endowments and maternity centers supported by private philanthropy would have, perhaps already have had, exactly the most dysgenic tendency.” Her use of the technical term dysgenic clearly indicates her belief that these woman-helping efforts violated Darwin’s doctrine of the survival of the fittest, by which the weaker were naturally eliminated by virtue of their inferiority.
This same spirit permeates Sanger’s magazine, Birth Control Review. It is full of articles with titles such as “The World’s Racial Problem,” “Toward Race Betterment,” and “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need.” The latter article was written in 1933 by Dr. Ernst Rudin, a leader in the German eugenics movement that was at the time busily laying the foundation for the Nazi’s acts of “racial improvement” and “ethnic cleansing.”
Elsewhere in that issue an article titled “Defective Families” calls the “American Gypsies” a “family of degenerates” started by a man and “a half-breed woman,” and warns that “their germ plasm has been traced throughout seven middle-western states.” Also in the same issue, in his article “Birth Control and Sterilization,” Sanger’s companion and lover, Dr. Havelock Ellis, stated, “sterilization would be... helpful, although it could not be possible in this way to eliminate the mentally unfit element in the population. It would only be a beginning.” Students of history know where that “beginning” ended only a decade later, under the leadership of a eugenic devotee name Adolf Hitler. (Though Sanger did not write these specific articles herself, as founder and director she was responsible for the ideas promoted by the magazine.)
In fact, the international eugenics movement, of which Margaret Sanger was inarguably a part, was openly praising Nazi racial policies at least as late as 1938. Sanger gave the welcoming address to a 1925 international eugenics conference. According to Marvin Olasky, Margaret Sanger’s “Negro Project” of the 1930s was “hailed for its work in spreading contraception among those whom eugenicists most deeply feared.” When it became evident that contraceptives were not sufficiently curtailing the black population and other target groups, the eugenicists turned to abortion as a solution to the spread of unwanted races and families.
In Margaret Sanger’s own words, to help the weaker and less privileged survive and to allow them to reproduce was to take a step backward in human evolution: “Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant.” These “stocks” were the poor and uneducated, a large portion of whom were ethnic minorities. Sanger was more interested in “aiming to eliminate” these “stocks” (read people) than in helping them.
This history helps to explain why to this day Planned Parenthood does virtually nothing to promote adoption or help poor and minority women who choose to give their children life rather than abort them. Planned Parenthood has even brought legal action to shut down alternative pregnancy centers that give women other choices besides abortion.
Though I have read many Planned Parenthood materials, I have never seen any that renounce or apologize for Sanger’s blatant eugenicism, her bias against the poor and the mentally and physically handicapped, and her implicit racism, all of which characterized Planned Parenthood’s philosophy from its inception. The fact that there are some highly visible blacks and other minority leaders in Planned Parenthood does not change its heritage or philosophy. It simply makes it easier to carry out its policies among target groups.
I do not believe Margaret Sanger was insincere or incorrect in everything she said and did. Nor do I believe most people who support abortion rights are racists, any more than I believe there are no racists among prolifers. I do believe that regardless of motives, a closer look at both the history and present strategies of the prochoice movement suggests that “abortion for the minorities” may not serve the cause of racial equality nearly as much as the cause of white supremacy.
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.