Singing Sanger’s praises, whistling past the graveyard

“We want fewer and better children ... and we cannot make the social life and the world-peace we are determined to make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens that you inflict on us.”

That ghastly pro-eugenics message appeared in the introduction to Margaret Sanger’s 1922 book, “The Pivot of Civilization.”

In a little-noticed incident, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced that she is “really in awe” of Sanger. “The 20th century reproductive rights movement, really embodied in the life and leadership of Margaret Sanger, was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race,” Clinton declaimed, upon receiving an award from the organization that Sanger founded, Planned Parenthood.

Clinton’s speech punctured the fiction that she’s a moderate – the radical organization Planned Parenthood certainly has confidence in her. Her words didn’t set off shockwaves among the public because Planned Parenthood is about as American as apple pie at this benighted point in history.

Pop culture, mass media, most Democrats and even some Republicans bow at its altar – the religious metaphor is intentional: Sanger referred to a “religion of birth control,” that sought to “ease the financial load of caring for with public funds ... children destined to become a burden to themselves, to their family and ultimately to the nation.”



According to its just-released annual report for 2007-2008, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America was responsible for conducting 305,310 abortions in the United States in 2007, an increase from 289,750 the previous year. Consider that the next time a pro-choice advocate tells you that women are being kept from abortions in America. That increase in abortions provided by PPFA coincided with an increase in government funding, from $337 million to $350 million.

Does any of this sound unacceptable to you? We certainly don’t have to subsidize the largest abortion provider in the United States, one with a dark history, (which Jonah Goldberg chronicles well in his book “Liberal Fascism,”) and a disturbing present.

But attempts by pro-life politicians to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood are always averted. Defenders of the organization argue that the government money goes toward family-planning outreach, not just abortions. But why does Planned Parenthood even need the U.S. Treasury, considering it makes a healthy profit year after year? Shouldn’t we at least be arguing over this?

Right now, Washington is more comfortable with abortion than it has been in a long time. As Hillary Clinton praises the Obama administration’s commitment to “reproductive rights,” it’s an important time for some reflection on what, exactly, that euphemism means.

Does, for instance, the Roe v. Wade co-counsel, Ron Weddington, reflect the reproductive rights movement? In the early 90s, just as the first Clinton administration was getting ready to take office, he urged it to rush an abortion pill into the hands of American women. He argued that doing so would help “start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country.”

He wrote: “(G)overnment is also going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations and abortions. ... There have been about 30 million abortions in this country since Roe v. Wade. Think of all the poverty, crime and misery ... and then add 30 million unwanted babies to the scenario. We lost a lot of ground during the Reagan-Bush religious orgy. We don’t have a lot of time left.”

Sounds a lot like the population-culling paranoia of Sanger, doesn’t it?

Pro-lifers are frequently portrayed by the Planned Parenthood crowd as heartless zealots unconcerned with the realities of women’s lives. Not only does the work of many crisis-pregnancy centers and like-minded groups suggest otherwise, but if you pay attention to the words of Sanger and her followers, you’ll find a much more chilling disdain for the realities of lower-class life.

There are folks with good intentions on all sides of the abortion debate. But if you doubt that a little scrutiny is well overdue, consider this: we have not yet hit the 100-day mark in the Obama administration, and the United Nations Population Fund has already been given a $50-million check from the United States. Sure, the UNFPA has been criticized for its collaboration with coerced abortion in China, but that’s just fine with us. And that’s exactly what can be expected from a State Department run by a woman “really in awe” of Margaret Sanger.

PPFA’s annual report is titled “Planned Parenthood Matters.” It sure does. It’s about time we take notice.

Kathryn Lopez is the editor of National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com). She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.

Copyright 2009, Kathryn Jean Lopez.

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