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Friday, February 3, 2012

Margaret Sanger in Her Own Words

Margaret Sanger is often portrayed as a secular saint. The reality is that she considered many people "degenerates," particularly among the poor. I'm going to start a page on Margaret Sanger and include quotes from her own writing as well as materials she edited which obviously had her approbation. This particular article was written by Sanger herself and titled Birth Control and Woman's Health. The quote below follows a number of excerpts, ostensibly from desperate women writing to her. What I find ironic (and somewhat suspicious) is that all the letters are highly articulate and, of course, heartbreaking and yet, these are the people she labels "degenerate" in the paragraph below because it's their children she believes should never have been born.

"We  are  dealing with  peculiar facts today,  so far as the health of  the race is concerned  In the early history of  the race, so-called 'natural  law'  reigned undisturbed Under its pitiless and unsympathetic  iron rule, only the strongest, most  courageous could live  and  become  progenitors  of  the race  The  weak  died   early,  or  were  killed.   Today,  however, civilization   has brought sympathy, pity, tenderness and other lofty and worthy sentiments, which   interfere with  the law of  natural selection  We  are now m a state where our charities, our compensation acts, our pensions, hospitals and even  our drainage and sanitary equipment  all tend to keep alive the sickly and weak, who are allowed to propagate and in turn produce a race of  degenerates." (American Birth Control Review, December 1917.)

This is not an unusual theme for Sanger, that philanthropy has caused too many unfit individuals to survive, although her statement about the "history of the race" and natural selection isn't backed up with any facts.  Sanger's elitist philosophy hides under a veneer of compassion for poor women forced to be "breeders" by the lack of birth control information. This fits in later with her belief that certain people, the feeble-minded (whoever they are in her judgment), should be kept in camps and not allowed to reproduce. More on that later.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

ok, I mentioned that she was a believer in eugenics and barbaric in her estimation of mental and physical defectives. But you said she advocated abortion. give me a quote from her on abortion. I am no fan of Margaret Sanger, but we need to stick to facts if we are to speak the truth We do more harm than good when we are not precise in our information

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Havelock Ellis, the sexologist and Margaret's English lover, advised her not to express her pro-abortion position but to focus on birth control b/c it was more acceptable. But she was definitely pro-abortion and here are several excerpts from her pamphlet, Family Limitation (6th edition 1917 http://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/AmRad/familylimitations.pdf)

"If there is the slightest possibility that the male fluid has entered the vagina , take on these same nights before retiring, five or ten grains of quinine with a hot drink....By taking the above precautions you will prevent the ovum from making its nest in the lining of the womb."

She goes on later to say, "Any attempt to interfere with the development of the fertilized ovum is called an abortion. No one can doubt that there are times when an abortion is justifiable but they will become unnecessary when care is taken to prevent conception."

As we can see from PP's philosophy any reason is justifiable for an abortion and they are singing the same song about birth control ending abortion as Sanger did.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the delay in responding but I have been travelling this week while on a research sabbatical. I appreciate the quote. I am asking one of my grad students to check out the original context –the quote as you present it is obviously edited—because it is inconsistent with other things Sanger wrote and said. I am not an expert on her by any means, but I have sat on three dissertation boards that dealt—in part—with the influence of Margaret Sanger (I am a sociologist) in modern America. I am not saying that you distorted the quotes—you probably took them from a printed secondary source—but I am anxious to see them in their original context as all three dissertations I sat in on dealt with her opposition to abortion. Two of those dissertations were definitely anti-Sanger as many feminist scholars today are not very high on her.

Brantigny said...

@anonymous ! Try these wittisisms of the grat destroyer.

"The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"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…"
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ... We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"Eugenics is … the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems.
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"The unbalance between the birth rate of the 'unfit' and the 'fit,' [is] the greatest present menace to civilization… the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying… a dead weight of human waste… an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"The procreation of [the diseased, the feeble-minded and paupers] should be stopped."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"The marriage bed is the most degenerative influence in the social order..."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"[Our objective is] unlimited sexual gratification without the burden of unwanted children..."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"[Mandatory] sterilization for [the insane and feeble-minded] is the answer."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

"Give dysgenic groups [people with 'bad genes'] in our population their choice of segregation or [compulsory] sterilization."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood, proposed the American Baby Code that states, "No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child… without a permit for parenthood".

Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood, proposed the Population Congress with the aim, "...to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization."


http://lefleurdelystoo.blogspot.com/2008/05/margaret-sanger.html