Margaret Sanger Seems Pretty Nice

Margaret Sanger was the esteemed founder of Planned Parenthood. Although she and her organization sometimes face unfair attacks from conservatives and anti-choice extremists, it turns out she was a pretty thoughtful and compassionate lady.

For one thing, she supported the right of women to decide for themselves how many children to have.

“Women of the working class, especially wage workers, should not have more than two children at most.”

She believed that reproductive decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, and that family planning should be left up to families (rather than the government).

“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.” (Plan for Peace, Article 4)

margaret sanger

She was extremely charitable, and believed in providing aid to the poor…

“[Charity] conceals a stupid cruelty, because it is not courageous enough to face unpleasant facts…It encourages the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant.”

…and she had mercy on the children of large families.

“The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

Since she highly valued reproductive privacy – and all sorts of privacy, really – she tried to prevent the birth of detectives.

“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.”

She was always pleasantly honest about her motives for providing undesirables and “the feeble-minded” with birth control…

“The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics.”

…and like every good birth control activist, Sanger believed that ALL women, even dysgenic ones, should have the right to choose.

“Give dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.”


Environmentalists might like to talk about “clean air” and “clean water”, but Sanger had even loftier goals.

“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”

She embraced diversity, and believed in reaching out to minority churches and communities.

“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.”

Yet shockingly, Sanger sometimes resembled a backwards anti-choicer in her thinking. Although a staunch advocate for contraception, she was far less enthusiastic about abortion.

“[Abortion] is an alternative that I cannot too strongly condemn. Although abortion may be resorted to in order to save the life of the mother, the practice of it merely for limitation of offspring is dangerous and vicious. I bring up the subject here only because some ill-informed persons have the notion that when we speak of birth control we include abortion as a method. We certainly do not. Abortion destroys the already fertilized ovum or the embryo; contraception, as I have carefully explained, prevents the fertilizing of the ovum by keeping the male cells away. Thus it prevents the beginning of life.”

Evidently she bought into the vicious lies of scientists, who tell us that human life begins at conception. Ah well. Nobody’s perfect.


7 thoughts on “Margaret Sanger Seems Pretty Nice

  1. Pingback: Flotsam & Jetsam (5/14) | the Ink Slinger

  2. Could you please provide references for those quotes? Where can I find them?

    • Hey Brent,

      I’m out of town for the next ten days or so, but I’d be more than happy to go through and source them when I get home. In the meantime, though, most of them are referenced on wikiquote (where I got probably 2/3rds).

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