Christianity Today: Eugenics proponent Margaret Sanger emphatic about social good of contraception
Christianity Today has just released an article praising the birth control efforts of Margaret Sanger, the racist founder of Planned Parenthood.
Guest author, Rachel Marie Stone, penned the “Contraception Saves Lives“, article, where she describes the piece as, “Reconsidering Margaret Sanger as one who was opposed to abortion but emphatic about the personal and social good of contraception.”
Despite the sickening character of Margaret Sanger as a proponent of eugenics which Stone admits to, she attempts to paint the Planned Parenthood founder as compassionate towards women who suffered in child birth, writing of one case:
The young nurse had been called to the apartment of Sadie Sachs, a poor woman who was extremely ill after attempting to perform an abortion on herself. Sadie begged the doctor to tell her how she might avoid future pregnancies.
He suggested, coldly, that Sadie — a young married woman — abstain from sex entirely.
Not long after, the young nurse was again summoned to Sadie Sachs’ apartment, where the same scenario was unfolding. This time, though, Sadie died from her attempt to abort her unborn child.
The young nurse — whose name was Margaret Sanger — threw her medical bag across the room in fury and vowed that she could not go on nursing until she had helped to make effective birth control widely available to working class and poor women.
When asked to write the piece, Stone said this, “I wasn’t sure how to reply; Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, which, contrary to what Sanger would have wished, is today the largest provider of abortions in the United States. As it happens, Planned Parenthood did not, in Sanger’s day, provide abortions. Sanger herself opposed abortion, saying that “no matter how early it was performed it was taking a life.” But Sanger, like many medical professionals in her day, did hold eugenicist ideas. Eugenics were enshrined into compulsory sterilization laws in many U.S. states and supported by organizations like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I do not mean to excuse Sanger for holding these views, but I do want to give the charge of “eugenicist” a more complete background.”
Let’s pause for one clarification, if Ms. Stone was not defending Margaret Sanger in her Christianity Today piece, why did she send out this tweet saying, “I am @amyjuliabecker ‘s blog today, defending #MargaretSanger and talking about how #birthcontrol saves lives. http://ow.ly/Kc2qr”
After taking some heat, Stone back tracked slightly:
It is true that Sanger opposed abortions as I detail here, however, what Stone leaves out is that she had a more permanent solution to abortion, forced sterilization.
By sterilizing Black women and those she and her eugenics friends considered feeble-minded, Sanger could guarantee they would never become pregnant again.
In Margaret Sanger’s, “Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Sanger states clearly that eugenics, the ideology Stone denounces is not complete without birth control , “Before eugenists and others who are laboring for racial betterment can succeed, they must first clear the way for Birth Control. Like the advocates of Birth Control, the eugenists, for instance, are seeking to assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit. Both are seeking a single end but they lay emphasis upon different methods.
Eugenists emphasize the mating of healthy couples for the conscious purpose of producing healthy children, the sterilization of the unfit to prevent their populating the world with their kind and they may, perhaps, agree with us that contraception is a necessary measure among the masses of the workers, where wages do not keep pace with the growth of the family and its necessities in the way of food, clothing, housing, medical attention, education and the like.
We who advocate Birth Control, on the other hand, lay all our emphasis upon stopping not only the reproduction of the unfit but upon stopping all reproduction when there is not economic means of providing proper care for those who are born in health. …While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and syphilitic, I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit… Eugenics without Birth Control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit…“
Sanger also called for those who were poor and what she considered to be “morons and immoral‘, to be shipped to colonies where they would live in “Farms and Open Spaces” dedicated to brainwashing these so-called “inferior types” into having what Sanger called, “Better moral conduct”.
In an interview with Mike Wallace, Sanger called the bringing of these “unfit” children, created by God in the womb, into the world a sin:
Just who was Sanger directing her Birth Control Pill advocacy towards? Her description is below
“I consider that the world and almost our civilization for the next twenty-five years, is going to depend upon a simple, cheap, safe contraceptive to be used in poverty stricken slums, jungles, and among the most ignorant people,” Sanger wrote in 1950, “Even this will not be sufficient, because I believe that now, immediately, there should be national sterilization for certain dysgenic types of our population who are being encouraged to breed and would die out were the government not feeding them.”
To further complicate Stone’s assumption of Sanger as a purveyor of “social good” the Planned Parenthood founder was also a racist:
This is what Sanger wrote in her autobiography, “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan…I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses…I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak…In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.” (Source: Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography, P.366 and Maafa21. )
In her article, Stone makes a reference to Government funded birth control in ObamaCare accusing those who opposed it of labeling women, promiscuous or lazy or selfish, unwilling to host a blessing from the Lord:
“A woman’s desire for birth control is, even today, regarded suspiciously, as was seen in public discussions around the birth control provisions of the Affordable Care Act — as if women desiring birth control were promiscuous or lazy or selfish, unwilling to host a blessing from the Lord, which children certainly are. But those of us who live privileged lives — relative to the urban poor of a hundred years ago, and relative to the millions of women in the majority world — are not always able to appreciate what access to birth control meant, and means, in these times and places,” Stone writes.
Well, Ms. Stone, are you not aware that many chemicals now labeled contraceptive are, in fact, abortive and that is one of the main oppositions to the government mandate?
But, since Ms. Stone is interested in Margaret Sanger’s view on all of this, allow me to give it.
“I just don’t see how we can control the birth rate until we get the government to agree that this is something which should be taken seriously. Other countries feel that if our government is against it, it must be bad. Americans would be much more acceptable when they go abroad to work on the problem if we get our government to approve it- perhaps under some such term as population control,” Sanger stated.
If Stone wants to advocate for contraception, that is one thing, but for her to try and convince the world that Sanger’s motives were compassionate, that is a completely different story.
For more on this controversy, read the following posts by others:
Christianity Today Mag Wants to Reconsider Margaret Sanger By Ignoring History, by Ryan Bomberger.
Christian blog says Margaret Sanger contraception agenda was good, by Life Dynamics, producer of the film on Sanger, Maafa21.
Bizarre Christianity Today Article Whitewashes Planned Parenthood’s Sanger, by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
After all the controversy, Amy Julia Becker, whose Christian Post Blog Stone was writing for, gave her explanation as to why she published the piece:
“The purpose of the post was to draw attention to the number of women, children, and unborn babies who die in countries without access to contraception, she writes.
Rather, an Internet maelstrom of comments on Stone’s original post and hundreds of tweets ensued, all in response to the way Stone depicted Margaret Sanger, founder of what is now the organization Planned Parenthood. These concerns center on Sanger’s deplorable eugenic positions and racism. As the mother of a child with Down syndrome; as someone who has advocated again and again for the value of every human life; as someone who has curated series about abortion, prenatal testing, and racial reconciliation in the church—I care deeply about rooting out any eugenic tendencies in our current context. I care deeply about exposing and confessing racism and working together toward reconciliation.
So I pay attention when writers and Christians like Timothy Dalrymple offer this critique of the post (in the comments section):
I hope you can make this argument more powerfully and more effectively in future by not making it seem as though one must accept or pseudo-accept Sanger in order to agree.
Amy Julia Becker said she will continue her contraception conversation from those opposed and those in favor, but, I get the feeling she will leave Sanger out of that conversation- we shall see.