Margaret Sanger is known today as an outspoken eugenicist, a feminist rabble rouser, an advocate of birth control, and founder America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Though Sanger has been dead for decades, her words and ideas continue to affect society.
Margaret Sanger died in 1966, but she left a lasting impact on American ideas and values. Sanger learned very early in her career that it was difficult for her to advocate abortion publicly without alienating the middle and poor classes of women she wanted in her movement. So she pushed for the legalization and free distribution of birth control and worked to dispel women’s fears that contraception was wrong. Sanger didn’t just make speeches and pressure Congress to change laws concerning contraception and birth control. She lit America on fire by rousing ordinary middle class housewives to support her in her fight for birth control and by propagating the mentality that some people are better than others. From false statements about the human person to today’s pro-abortion rhetoric, Sanger’s fingerprints are all over the culture of death, as she established the pro-abortion arguments and ideas that we know today.
The problem with using the “my body, my choice” argument regarding abortion is that the living, developing human child inside his mother is not part of the mother’s body. The preborn child is a biologically separate individual with his own unique set of fingerprints, DNA, and sometimes even a different blood type. There is no way a scientist would ever mistake a growing preborn baby with a limb, an organ, or a tumor in the mother’s body.
Feminists of today also use “my body, my choice” to describe their “right” to government-funded birth control and other “reproductive health services.” But where did we get the idea that birth control is a human right or that the government does not have the right to step between a woman and her contraception? The answer: Margaret Sanger.
“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.” ( “A Parents’ Problem or Woman’s?” The Birth Control Review, March 1919).
Birth control is the only pill, injection, or device that does not attempt to cure, treat, or prevent a disease. Rather, the original purpose of birth control is to prevent a woman’s body from performing its natural function—bearing children.
It almost sounds innocent—that every child who is born should be wanted by his parents. Yes, parents should love and want their children, but what if a couple doesn’t want any children, yet becomes pregnant anyway? What happens to the preborn child who was not “planned”?
Sanger believed that only about 15 percent or so of the American population was made up of the intelligent, hardworking elite. Everyone else (the remaining 85 percent) fit into her categories of idiots, imbeciles, syphilitics, epileptics, and criminals. Can you guess which group Margaret Sanger wanted to prevent from having children? In Sanger’s plan, 85 percent of Americans would voluntarily accept sterilization, segregation, or another form of birth control so that the elite could repopulate the country.
It is because of Margaret Sanger that our young people today accept the idea that a couple can choose to have children whenever they want—whether that comes in the form of using contraception to prevent a child from coming into the world or taking the gift of life into their own hands through abortion and IVF.
Another sad reality of Margaret Sanger’s vision is that even a “planned” child could be unwanted. In her plan for peace, Sanger talks about “defending the unborn against their own disabilities.” After sterilizing people with disabilities, how can you prevent uninherited genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome, from entering the “public gene pool”? Margaret Sanger’s answer: abortion. “No one can doubt that there are times where an abortion is justifiable but they will become unnecessary when care is taken to prevent conception,” she wrote in her 1914 pamphlet Family Limitation.
Almost 90 percent of preborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, despite the fact that 99 percent of people who have Down syndrome report being happy with their lives. Instead of valuing children who have disabilities, our society has been trained to think of people with disabilities as disposable or unworthy of life. Because every person is made in the image and likeness of God, and is and has been loved by God since before the beginning of time, every child is a wanted child. But not in Margaret Sanger’s world.
High school and college students joke about how they don’t want to pass on their “bad” genes to children. The media rants about how people should care for their environment and stop having children. Margaret Sanger linked bearing children to many of society’s problems, including ill health for the mother and baby, poverty, crime, and a bad economy. Today, people blame the poor economy and global warming on overpopulation. This view isn’t very different from Sanger’s. We face different issues, but the culture of death’s answer is the same: Eliminate the people to solve world problems.
The idea that certain people shouldn’t reproduce is twisted. We cannot see into the future; we have no way of knowing if our children will have problems or not. Even if doctors, scientists, and psychics are 100 percent sure that a child will inherit his parent’s bad genes, that doesn’t mean he will. They have all forgotten one thing: God is control, not science.
Parents of children with Down syndrome often recall the painful moments when they first learned of their child’s diagnosis, but soon realize the immense blessings that this child has brought to the family. We need to help our society see that children are a gift that we can’t control. God places every single person in our lives for a reason. He wills each of us into being.
Margaret Sanger died on 9/6/66, but her ideas are far from dead. Her agenda lives on in her organization, Planned Parenthood. With Sanger’s racist plans and eugenic goals, one might think that Planned Parenthood would hide her with the other horrible skeletons in history’s closet. Surprisingly, despite what Planned Parenthood says about Margaret Sanger’s “outmoded” ideas, it praises her as a 20th century hero. It celebrates her life with the Margaret Sanger Award and the Maggie Awards for journalists and artists who spread the culture of death in media. And politicians and celebrities rave about her courage and tenacity.
This misguided belief and these lies are why it’s integral to educate our young people about the founder of Planned Parenthood. In the Who Was the Real Margaret Sanger? unit study and video series, students can finally learn the truth about Margaret Sanger. This study shows the impact of Sanger’s ideas on society and teaches students what they can do to build a culture of life.
Who Was the Real Margaret Sanger? is now available for purchase. Visit our store to order your copy, to spread the truth about Sanger, and to help build a culture of life.
Mary Kizior is the Product Development and Marketing Manager for the Culture of Life Studies Program. Her work has appeared on LifeSiteNews.com, Christ Is Our Hope magazine, Celebrate Life Magazine, Defend Life magazine, the Peanut Butter and Grace blog, and other blogs.