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Abortion - A Liberal Cause? (Margaret Sanger and Eugenics)

Abortion - A Liberal Cause?

by Jefferis Kent Peterson

Abortion has been numbered among the liberal causes of modern politics. Abortion is identified with women's rights just as the Civil Rights Movement was identified with equal rights for African Americans and other minorities. But is abortion really a liberal cause? A careful examination of the history of the abortion rights movement would shock even the most ardent defender of a woman's right to choose. The founders of the movement were in fact racists who despised the poor and who were searching for a way to prevent colored races from reproducing. Rather than defending the rights of the poorest of the poor, which is the tradition of liberalism, the founders advocated abortion as a means of eliminating the poor; especially Blacks, Jews, Slavs, and Italians. And rather than desiring to help the poor through welfare programs, they wanted to eliminate all charities and government aid. Today, most liberals would be shocked to know of this racist heritage. Not only is the founding of the abortion rights movement anti-liberal, but it may have been an attempt to promote racial genocide.

The modern day abortion rights movement began as the American Birth Control League in 1921. Among its founding board members were Margaret Sanger, Lothrup Stoddard, and C. C. Little. The latter two people were known for their racist views, but Margaret Sanger continually shows up in the company of other racists. In fact, she was the guest speaker at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Silverlake, N. J. in 1926.[1] Not only did she not disassociate herself from these racist views, her own writings leave little doubt as to her sympathies. In implementing a plan called the "Negro Project," that was designed to sterilize Blacks and reduce the number of Black children being born in the south, Sanger wrote:

"[We propose to] hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. And we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." [2]

Sanger also viewed welfare as a detriment to society because it increased the number of poor blacks and foreigners. "Organized charity (modern welfare) is the symptom of a malignant social disease, increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents, and dependents. My criticism, therefore, is not directed at the 'failure' of philanthropy, but rather at its success."[3] The urban poor, and their increasing numbers, she called, "an ever widening margin of biological waste."[4] Welfare, she believed, encouraged the breeding of the poor, or "human waste," as she called them. She feared that welfare would encourage the urban poor by having them give birth to those "stocks that are the most detrimental to the future of the race"[5] Therefore, she believed that the government should actively encourage the sterilization of those who are unfit to propagate the race, using as her motto: "More [children] from the fit, less from the unfit."[6]

No modern day liberal would dare question the need for some form of government aid to the poor. But Margaret Sanger wanted more for the privileged and less for the poor. How did someone who was so obviously biased and lacking in compassion become the heroine of todays liberals? It is a strange reversal of political direction. It is as if the Democratic Party suddenly turned around and supported David Duke for Supreme Court Justice.

Margaret Sanger also continued to advocate for her racial prejudices in her magazine, Birth Control Review. In six successive issues of that magazine, she advocated limiting the racial quotas of immigration of "Slavs, Hebrews, and Latins,"[7] because of their lower intelligence! Although Ms. Sanger was the editor of the magazine, she shared its pages with the racist co-founders of the American Birth Control League. Board member Lothrup Stoddard wrote the racist book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy [8], which was reviewed favorably in Birth Control Review.[9] Co-founder and board member, C. C. Little, was president of the Third Race Betterment Conference, and he advocated preserving the purity of "Yankee stock" through limiting the births of non-Whites.[10]

Margaret Sanger was also strongly anti-Semitic. She started a similar birth control organization with a man named Henry Pratt Fairchild, who wrote The Melting Pot Mistake, in which he accused "the Jews" of diluting the true American stock.[11] In his book, Race and Nationality, (1947), Fairchild blamed anti-Semitism and the holocaust in part on "the Jews."[12].

Finally, Margaret Sanger and her organization began to be primary sponsors of abortion rights during her lifetime. But because she had associated herself with Adolph Hitler, praising him for his racial politics of eugenics, she changed the name of American Birth Control League to Planned Parenthood during WWII in order to disguise her racist past.[13] Today, her organization, Planned Parenthood, is still in the forefront of advocating abortion as a means of eliminating the unwanted and "unfit." Not only does the organization perform thousands abortions each year, it also receives 100's of millions of tax dollars each year through Federal and State Governments.[14] And rather than being in the forefront of a woman's right to choose, International Planned Parenthood is a primary advocate for the Chinese Government's policy of forcing women to have abortions against their will, and it also advocates for the sterilization of Third World non-Whites across the globe.[15] It seems that PP is "pro-choice" when trying to impress the U.S. media, but anti-choice in the actual implementation of its world-wide agenda.

But has Planned Parenthood changed? It is significant to note that Planned Parenthood has never distanced itself from the vision and ideology of its founder. Successive presidents of the organization have praised her work, including Faye Wattleton, who said, "As we celebrate the 100th birthday of Margaret Sanger, our courageous leader, we should be very proud of what we are and what our mission is. It is a very grand mission; abortion is only the tip of the iceberg."[16]

One can only wonder how abortion rights came to be adopted by liberals in the Democratic Party, or any other party. It is difficult to image how it came to be identified with other liberal causes. Through a slick media campaign and effective sloganeering, Planned Parenthood painted abortion as a compassionate and caring alternative to childbirth. Their motivation however may be altogether different. It seems that abortion still today, rather than being seen as a way of helping the poor and minorities, is considered the easiest solution for our economic problems. Don't help the poor, just eliminate them.

Jeff Peterson writes for the Scholars' Corner and is the author of "Pardoned or Paroled?" from Isaiah House Publishing.


  • 1) Emily Taft Douglas, Margaret Sanger; Pioneer of the Future, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, N.Y., 1970, p. 192.
  • 2) Margaret Sanger, letter to Clarence Gamble, Oct. 19,1939. - Sanger manuscripts, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.
  • 3) Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, Brentano's, N.Y., 1922, p.108.
  • 4) Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, p.134.
  • 5) Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, pp. 116-117.
  • 6) Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, p.104 & 179.
  • 7) Birth Control Review article:"Racial Quotas in Immigration," Margaret Sanger, editor, Aug. 1920, pp. 9-10. Article continues in next 5 issues.
  • 8) Linda Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, Grossman,N.Y., 1976, p. 283.
  • 9) Birth Control Review, Margaret Sanger, editor, Oct. 1920.
  • 10) Gordon, Woman's Body, p. 283.
  • 11) Fairchild, The Melting Pot Mistake, 1926, pp. 212 ff.
  • 12) Fairchild, Race and Nationality, 1947, pp. 137-161, esp. p.147.
  • 13) Gordon, Woman's Body, p. 347.
  • 14) Based on 1984 figures compiled by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Issues in Brief, 4:1 (March, 1984).
  • 15) Planned Parenthood Review, 5:1 (Winter 1984/85) & 2:4 (Winter 1982), p. 16. Report of the Working Group on the Promotion of Family Planning as a Basic Human Right, International Planned Parenthood Federation, London, 1984, pp. 21-23.
  • 16) Faye Wattleton, president Planned Parenthood Federation of America, speech, February 5, 1979.