For years, a government webpage has featured a positive biography of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, while failing to mention her racist beliefs, which included the use of birth control to “exterminate the Negro population.”
The webpage in question is featured on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website, and was originally published during the Clinton administration in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It was published online on December 12, 1999.
The biography opens with the premise “sometimes social factors slow progress toward improving health more than lack of awareness or the absence of technology. No 20th century public health achievement demonstrates this more clearly than the struggle to provide women in the United States with safe and effective birth control. Margaret Sanger risked scandal, danger, and imprisonment to challenge the legal and cultural obstacles that made controlling fertility difficult and illegal.”
Sanger’s accomplishments are listed, as well as notations that her writings made her the target of law enforcement. The biography notes that she was charged with obscenity and served 30 days in jail for distributing information on birth control, but celebrated the fact that her efforts “made birth control a matter of public debate.”
Finally, the biography notes that she founded Planned Parenthood in 1952, and died a few months after a 1965 Supreme Court decision making birth control legal for married couples, stating it was “the culmination of events Sanger had started 50 years earlier.”
What the biography fails to mention is her extreme views on race and class, which were the motivation for her crusade for birth control and abortion. While her statements are well-documented, LifeNews.com carried a story by Live Action News' Lauren Enriquez that listed ten of her more outrageous statements and beliefs. They include:
On African Americans: “We should 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. We don’t want the 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” (from a 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble). In her own autobiography, Sanger admitted to speaking at a 1926 meeting of the women's auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan.
On people she considered genetically inferior: “[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.”
(from her column “Plan for Peace” in the 1932 publication Birth Control Review)
Her plan for regulated reproduction:
“Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies… and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.”
(from her proposed “Code for Babies” from 1934)
The CDC biography of Sanger mentions her indictment for violating obscenity laws for distributing her pamphlet Family Limitation, as if it were a badge of honor. However, the biography failed to mention that the pamphlet advocated for the forced regulation of childbirth of working class people. In the pamphlet, Sanger states “Women of the working class, especially wage workers, should not have more than two children at most. The average working man can support no more and the average working woman can take care of no more in decent fashion.”
While it is unclear who in the Clinton administration signed off on the biography, it should be noted that Hillary Clinton considers Sanger a personal hero. At Planned Parenthood's 2009 gala in Houston, then-Secretary of State Clinton said "I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision...Margaret Sanger’s work is not yet done.” Clinton was given the organization's Margaret Sanger Award at the event.
A notation on the CDC's Sanger biography webpage mentions a “review date” of May 2, 2001, but it is unclear what this review entailed, and the content has remained on the site unchanged in its positive depiction of Sanger.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to receive a weekly email update from WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE link here or at the top of this page.