Let’s be clear: Margaret Sanger’s eugenicist ideas were wrong in 1916 and they’re wrong now.
The philosophy promoted by Planned Parenthood’s founder, Sanger, that certain people should be prevented from having children is repugnant and runs directly counter to our organization’s long-standing mission of enabling anyone to have the family they want, when they want.
Sanger was a woman of outstanding accomplishments, but her support of eugenics was more than misguided. She willfully ignored the harm that these beliefs caused and put what she saw as the clear benefits of birth control far ahead of any regard she held for people of color, people with disabilities, or people with low incomes.
We cannot condone that behavior. We cannot ignore how it has shaped Planned Parenthood today.
In the current social and political landscape, anti-reproductive rights activists continue to attack Sanger, who has been dead for more than 50 years, because she is an easier target than the decades-long unassailable reputation of Planned Parenthood and the contemporary reproductive rights and justice movements.
Those opposed to safe, legal abortion have also cynically tried to perpetuate a myth, based on Sanger’s beliefs, that our organization “promotes Black genocide.”
To claim that the vital health services we provide are equal to “genocide” is to deny that all people have agency over their own bodies. What we do is support decisions that people make about controlling their own lives and futures. This is especially important for Black women and all women of color in this country who are least likely to have the same access to safe, legal abortion that white women have.
We acknowledge the damage that was done by Margaret Sanger, without forgetting the benefit that we have reaped from her advocacy for birth control. Planned Parenthood’s calling today is to build a world in which every person — regardless of race, income, insurance, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities, or immigration status — can access expert, compassionate health care sex education, and information without shame or judgment.
We believe our services must be intersectional, honoring that no one defines themselves by just one identity – and all the identities that comprise our humanity deserve to be respected and cared for. We are also committed to addressing and correcting implicit bias and structural racism within our organization so that we can continue to improve our delivery of health care and education to the people and communities we serve.
For that, we make no apologies.