Monday, July 16, 2012

When did Planned Parenthood cease being a eugenic organization?

The history of Margaret Sanger's eugenic views are in a general sense well known, so I don't want to spend any more time detailing that here than I have to. But with regards to this a few things are important and need to be outlined:

First, what Planned Parenthood(PP) themselves call "The Sanger Years". She founded it, and ran the show. They're clearly proud of this.

Second, PP's roots in the group called The "American Birth Control League".(ABCL) What was the ABCL all about? On page 277 of Margaret Sanger's book Pivot of Civilization, she spells it out quite clearly. Note that under the "aims" section, the following department is listed:

STERILIZATION of the insane and feebleminded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases, with the understanding that sterilization does not deprive the individual of his or her sex expression, but merely renders him incapable of producing children.

While the word "eugenics" is not used in this specific section of the book(it is in others), the concepts of "building a better race" and sterilization are classic eugenic proposals. (and yes, she does mean compulsory sterilization)

To put this plainly, the The American Birth Control League was a eugenic organization.

And third, a decade after publishing "Pivot", Sanger published an article titled "America Needs a Code for Babies in which she detailed what her "American Baby Code" would look like. This one specifically:

Article 8. Feeble-minded persons, habitual congenital criminals, those afflicted with inheritable disease, and others found biologically unfit by authorities qualified judge should be sterilized or, in cases of doubt, should be so isolated as to prevent the perpetuation of their afflictions by breeding.

Certain words jump out at you when you read that, and in in part 3 her interview with Mike Wallace, she says very familiar things: (2 minutes 35 seconds)

Wallace: Do you believe there is such a thing as sin?
Sanger: I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world (PAUSE) that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they are born. That to me is the greatest sin that people can commit.

Now, if you watched the video, you'll see why I highlighted the awkward pause. (And watch the look on her face. She knows she messed up in that pause. Also, notice how she constantly looks down her nose at her interviewer.) The more you've read of Sanger's own words, the more you know that what she said before the pause is the most honest answer. But as to the whole highly qualified comment, she never gave up on eugenics until the day she died. She just changed her language a bit.

Moving on from Sanger, her replacement within PP who was also a believer in eugenics, Alan Guttmacher. What's even more interesting is that around the time that Sanger left PP another would be successor was floating around, William Vogt. Another strong believer in eugenics. I'm sure some people will scratch their heads and ask "why does birth control attract eugenicists like bees to honey"?

The best answer to that may be going back to one of the founders of the American Eugenics Society(The group Guttmacher was vice president of), Frederick Osborn, who stated in the 70's that "Birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances of our time" . This should again only further serve to leave most people scratching their heads. I say "should", because how many people (besides myself of course) sit around reading old issues of Birth Control Review?(BCR) Very, very few I'm sure. But if you want to understand progressivism, you have to read progressives. That's just how this works.

Note that searching in that link to BCR the following words are used so many times: "Malthus", 23 times. "Population", 98 times. And "Malthusian", 78 times.(this does not appear to replicate "Malthus") So long ago, a decade at least before the creation of PP, birth control advocates had long joined the doctrines of overpopulation, eugenics, and all the rest of it into one common cause. For those who don't know, Thomas R Malthus is the one who popularized all the fearmongering about population.

You can also see it if you look at who they've given their awards to, and for what reasons.

William H Draper, was a big time funder of eugenic organizations in the 30's, Draper and Hugh Moore(another eugenicist with PP) popularized the phrase "population bomb" (Alt. link, search for 'draper'), and was Chairman of a group called the "Population Crisis Committee"(PCC), which (if you've been a reader of mine for a while) you'll note that PCC laundered itself. It gave itself a new name, Population Action International. This is what progressives always do. They don't give up on what they believe in, they just change the label. He got the award for "his singular contribution during the past decade to the mobilization of public awareness and government action to resolve the world population crisis". Notice the evolution of the argument as a whole. Eugenics is never officially abandoned, instead new titles are simply used.

Here is what appears to be an entire list of award recipients. "Population" is there 35 times.(some replicated within the same names/recipients)

Going back to Osborn's comment, Wikipedia states that this comment was made following the decision of Roe v Wade. I've often been distrusting of Wikipedia, but it is double footnoted. It seems that the Eugenics society was already in the process of a name change by the time Wade was decided, but it's still rather coincidental that the actual decision specifically lists "population" as a part of the court's reasoning.

In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.

But where are we today? Has Planned Parenthood ever specifically rebuked eugenics itself? Have they ever commented on the evolution of eugenics into overpopulation and birth control? They fervently defend Margaret Sanger, they openly reference BCR. I doubt they want people going and reading it though, one article titled "Large Families and Human Waste" quite plainly states that eugenics makes birth control imperative.

While I don't know of any rebuking of eugenics from PP, there is the Jaffe Memo, which puts a notch down as late as the early 1970's.(as well as the award to William Draper Jr.) I had initially thought that the Jaffe Memo was fake, until I ran across this blog posting which tracks down some of the sources behind it. Searching both PP's website as well as the website for Population Council, you see that these two organizations are very friendly with each other. And why not? Both take issue with so called overpopulation that's long been in the eugenic DNA. As late as 2006 they were giving Sanger Awards for the issue of population. With birth control having been so infused with eugenics and intertwined with overpopluation over the last century, it's likely that to this day PP remains a eugenic organization. They were clearly founded that way, and for a long time their leadership was derived from a eugenic heritage.

I realize how politicized the issue of birth control has gotten over the years, so I'm going to end this posting as sharp as I can for those who are supporters of causes such as this:

I didn't type this to get at the issue of birth control. I'm looking at these dishonest and shady groups/individuals. Birth control existed long before eugenics did, but that the issue was hijacked cannot be ignored. If your immediate response to this is to take an indignant response based on a comfort zone of your views of birth control, while at the same time you aren't prepared to move outside your comfort zone and give a discourse about eugenics or the discredited notion of the population bomb, I would like to know if you even read a word that I just typed?

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