Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Was Motivated by Racism-Reported to be Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Claims have been made that Margaret Sanger, the founder of organizations that eventually became Planned Parenthood, encouraged “colored people” to use birth control because she was racist and wanted to use eugenics to eliminate the race.
Many quotations about black people and birth control have been falsely attributed to Margaret Sanger over the years, so we are reporting this one to be fiction.
Most of them stem from “the Negro Project,” which Margaret Sanger launched in 1938 to educate black people about birth control. Claims that Sanger was motivated by racism first surfaced in the 1970s when author Linda Gordon made that argument in her book, “Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right.” In the book, Gordon quoted Sanger as stating that:
“The mass of significant Negroes, particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among whites, is (in) that portion of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear children properly.”
But that statement actually came from the civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois. It was included in an article that he wrote for the Birth Control Review in 1932 titled “Negroes and Birth Control.” Margaret Sanger later quoted Du Bois, but the statement wasn’t her own.
Another common claim is that Margaret Sanger called black people “human weeds” and reckless breeders who never should have been born in her book, “Pivot of Civilization.” That claim appears to have started with a post published by the website Life News:
“In ‘Pivot of Civilization,’ Sanger penned her thoughts regarding immigrants, the poor, and the error of philanthropy. Sanger’s ideology of racial and social hygiene bleeds through her writings on breeding an ideal human race: They are…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ’spawning… human beings who never should have been born.”
But the phrases “human weeds” and “never should have been born” don’t appear in Margaret Sanger’s “Pivot of Civilization.” Sanger does quote Karl Marx on “reckless breeding” at one point:
“…This is nowhere more evident than in Marx’s ‘Capital’ itself. In that monumental effort, it is impossible to discover any adequate refutation or even calm discussion of the dangers of irresponsible parenthood and reckless breeding, any suspicion that this recklessness and irresponsibility is even remotely related to the miseries of the proletariat.”
So, again, it appears that these quotes have been taken out of context or incorrectly attributed to Margaret Sanger.
The idea that Margaret Sanger was motivated by racism is also contradicted by the civil rights movement’s acceptance of her birth control education campaign. In 1966, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Margaret Sanger Award in Human Rights, he said:
“There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. She, like we, saw the horrifying conditions of ghetto life. Like we, she knew that all of society is poisoned by cancerous slums. Like we, she was a direct actionist — a nonviolent resistor. She was willing to accept scorn and abuse until the truth she saw was revealed to the millions. At the turn of the century she went into the slums and set up a birth control clinic, and for this deed she went to jail because she was violating an unjust law. Yet the years have justified her actions. She launched a movement which is obeying a higher law to preserve human life under humane conditions. Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision; for without them there would have been no beginning.”
Margaret Sanger has always been a polarizing figure, and that’s unlikely to change. However, historical records don’t back up claims that she was motivated by racism, so we are reporting this one as fiction.