Planned Parenthood to Remove Eugenicist Margaret Sanger’s Name from Flagship Abortion Clinic

1916: Full-length portrait of American nurse and social reformer Margaret Sanger leaning against a bookcase. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) announced Tuesday it plans to remove the name of the organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger, from its flagship abortion facility in New York City because of her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”

The announcement also indicated the organization would be working with city officials to “rename an honorary street sign that marks the ‘Margaret Sanger Square’ at the intersection of Bleecker and Mott Streets in Manhattan.”

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” said Karen Seltzer, PPGNY board chair, in a statement.

“Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy,” she added. “There is overwhelming evidence for Sanger’s deep belief in eugenic ideology, which runs completely counter to our values at PPGNY.”

The announcement comes one month after Planned Parenthood workers accused former PPGNY CEO Laura McQuade of “systemic racism” and “abuse” and called for her removal.

In an open letter listing their complaints about McQuade, several hundred Planned Parenthood employees also referred to Sanger.

“Planned Parenthood was founded by a racist, white woman,” the workers wrote. “That is a part of history that cannot be changed.”

The plan to remove Sanger’s name also comes less than a year since Planned Parenthood Federation of America CEO Alexis McGill Johnson wrote in letter to the editor at the Wall Street Journal that editorial board member Bill McGurn’s depiction of Sanger’s involvement in the Negro Project, an effort to curb blacks from reproducing, “is callous and incorrect.”

McGurn had asserted that “eugenics have been used to justify abortion from the start,” explaining that Sanger was concerned the “more rebellious members” of the black community would begin to consider “we want to exterminate the Negro population.”

“A full reading of Sanger’s letter about the project reveals her outlining the important role black doctors and nurses serve to calm concerns about eugenics, not to promote it,” Johnson defended in her letter, and continued:

Framing access to reproductive health care and bodily autonomy as eugenics exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of the racialized gender oppression on which antiabortionists stand. The truth is, the antiabortion movement was born out of racist and xenophobic concerns about the falling white birth rate—echoes of which you still hear in today’s white supremacist rhetoric.

“We stand with black women and refuse to cower to the misogyny and white supremacy that seek to deny access to our autonomy and the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion,” she stated, “because more than any antiabortion politician or activist, we know what is best for our lives, our bodies and our families.”

Over the last five years, many black leaders have campaigned to have Sanger’s bust, and other depictions of her, removed from the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, but to no avail.

Last week, amid demands by groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa for “racist” monuments and statues to be removed in cities across the country, Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID) and others once again called for Sanger’s bust to be removed from the gallery.

Breitbart News reached out to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery for comment on the continued calls to have Sanger’s images removed. In response, the museum said:

The National Portrait Gallery represents and puts into context significant American biographies through portraiture. The museum is not a hall of heroes but rather a collection of individuals who have impacted American history and culture – in ways both good and bad. Margaret Sanger, founder of the American Birth Control League (1921), is included in the museum’s collection, not in tribute to all of her beliefs, but because of her leading role in early efforts to distribute information about birth control and medical information to disadvantaged women, as well as her later roles associated with developing modern methods of contraception. The museum presents the complexities of her as a leader of medical awareness on issues of women’s health.

Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, congratulated PPGNY for its decision to remove Sanger’s name, but added that, “tragically, Planned Parenthood continues to carry out her racist and marginalizing vision through ever more violent means.”

“But today they do so under the banner of autonomy and freedom of choice,” Foster said. “In New York City, more black children are aborted every year than born. Advocates for the human right to life have for a century pointed to Margaret Sanger’s appalling views and the way that her ideology of white supremacy permeates Planned Parenthood’s work.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, asked Planned Parenthood, “Why stop there?”

“Margaret Sanger’s racist legacy continues to be at work in America, as seen in Planned Parenthood’s business model,” she said. “But whether in the Smithsonian, Manhattan, or the Old South Meeting House on the Freedom Trail, Margaret Sanger’s tributes need to be taken down and stored away because her desire to ensure that black babies would not be born doesn’t deserve honor.”

Similarly, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said Planned Parenthood’s “next step” is “recognizing that Margaret Sanger’s racist legacy continues today, as abortion continues to disproportionately impact minority communities, especially the black community”:

We call on Planned Parenthood to immediately publish its historical abortion data by race given indications they have skewed the placement of abortion facilities and actively target minority communities. Further, we call on Planned Parenthood to drop its fierce opposition to anti-discrimination laws that protect unborn children from being selected for abortion due to their race, sex, or disability.

Dannenfelser also called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and former Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “to disavow and return their Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger awards immediately.”

Each year, Planned Parenthood bestows upon an individual who has furthered the cause of abortion access with the Margaret Sanger award, the organization’s highest honor.

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