Planned Parenthood and Eugenics

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Arguments, Did you know?, History Related, Social Concerns
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Everyone knows what Planned Parenthood is, but most people don’t know what Eugenics is. Some people have probably never even heard of it. The term eugenics was first coined by Francis Galton, who was also a cousin of Charles Darwin. It is derived form the Greek word eu (good) and genics (in birth).[1] It essentially means being “well-born.” The purpose of Eugenics is simple; natural selection by evolution is a slow process, but just as animals can be bred to remove the weak genes, the same can be done with humans to ensure that only the most desirable genes are passed on.

“We have wonderful new races of horses, cows, and pigs. Why should we not have a new and improved race of men?” –Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Race Betterment Foundation.[2]

During the time eugenics became popular in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, scientists believed that almost everything related to character was heritable, and not a product of environment. Violent behavior, ignorance and even sense of humor, were all traits that were believed to be passed down from one generation to the next. As Charles Darwin stated, “When we look among our acquaintances we are struck by their diversity in physical, mental, and moral traits… these characteristics are inheritable.” [3]So the solution was simple; if there are any traits society agrees it does want to see continue, prevent that person or people from reproducing. This was known as negative eugenics, and its purpose was to decrease the number of the “unfit.” Positive eugenics was the opposite in that if there were traits that were deemed “good,” an effort should be made to promote the continuance of those traits through reproduction.

Eugenics is not something new to the world. It was done as early as the 5th and 4th centuries in Athens, Sparta, ect. Supported by Plato and Aristotle, if a child was born with any deformities, the new born was immediately killed because it would only weaken the nation’s strength and in turn they would “spare” the child from an unpleasant life and the nation from an unfit citizen.[4] But in the late 1800’s Francis Galton was trying to bring it back to the modern age, “Could not the undesirable traits be got rid of and the desirable multiplied?”[5]

Here is the list of the ten social misfits the eugenics movement targeted to remove out of society;

1. The feebleminded.

2. The pauper class.

3. Alcoholics.

4. Criminals (of all crimes, even petty ones).

5. Epileptics.

6. The insane.

7. The constitutionally weak.

8. Those predisposed to specific diseases.

9. The deformed.

10. The sense deprived; blind, deaf and mute.[6]

I don’t know about you as the reader, but if the Eugenics movement was successfully carried out in our country across the board, I would not be alive today, and there is a good chance you would not be either…

“We civilized men… do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of everyone to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution, would formerly have succumbed to the small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised [sic] societies propagate their kind… It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of the human race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow the worst animals to breed.”[7] Guess who wrote this? Charles Darwin, the man from whom the concept of biological evolution was founded. Now you must ask yourself honestly, do you agree with Darwin?

The ultimate goal of Eugenics was to create a better race of man, a superior race of man, faster than nature could through evolution. Does that sound familiar? Does Hitler come to mind? Well, it should because Hitler was an outspoken supporter of Eugenics, and prior to World War II he was even supported by many Americans that also believed in Eugenics. That is until they found out about Hitler’s death camps and incredibly inhuman medical experiments. Then they did not support him anymore… interesting, considering it was Hitler’s application of eugenics they disliked, not the concept.

You may be thinking to yourself, but this was all 70 years ago and surely done away with in that time right? You’d think with the advancements in genetic biology and the Nazi terror of WWII eugenics would be wiped off the face of the earth, right? Not quite… as Edwin Black writes, “While human genetics was becoming established in America, eugenics did not die out. It became quiet and careful.”[8] In 1907 Indiana enacted forced sterilization laws that was applied to “mentally impaired patients, poorhouse residents, and prisoners.” 30 other states began to follow suit and between 1907 and 1970 between 60,000 and 70,000 were sterilized against their will, right here in good ol’ America.[9] Immigration laws were enacted to limit the amount of children immigrants could have. Marriage restrictions were enacted to interracial couples to keep the Caucasian race “pure.” But unknown to most, marriage restrictions were also applied to the blind, deaf and mute. Eugenicist Frederick Osborn stated in 1965, “The term medical genetics has taken the place of the term negative eugenics.”[10] Recall negative eugenics being the active attempt to prohibit reproduction of the “unfit.” Beginning in the 1990’s parents using in vitro fertilization could have multiple embryos tested for disorders, abnormalities, disabilities and sex. All unwanted embryos are discarded (killed). In 2003 James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, stated, “If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease. The lower 10 percent of who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that,’ It probably isn’t. So I’d like to get rid of that, to help lower the 10 percent.”[11] In 2005 the Netherlands adopted the “Groningen Protocol- Euthanasia in Severely Ill Newborns,” to help doctors decide if newborns should be euthanized based on the newborn’s disease and perceived quality of life.[12] As you can see, Eugenics is very much alive and well today.

Ok, so Eugenics is bad, we can all agree, right? But what does this have to do with Planned Parenthood? Well, there once was a woman by the name of Margaret Sanger who was born in 1879, the 6th of 11 children from a poor white family.[13] She would later become a member of the socialist party, a very influential feminist and women’s rights activist. She would eventually align herself with Thomas Malthus (a man heavily influenced by Darwin) who believed the human population was growing too rapidly for resources to keep up.[14] The solution he proposed was to decrease and eliminate the “inferior” population through birth control, sterilization and abortion. And we all remember who was considered “inferior” correct? In 1921 Sanger would organize the American Birth Control League, which after Hitler’s actions in WWII would lead the ABCL to change their name to Planned Parenthood. Even though Sanger and other Eugenicists openly supported Hitler originally, they knew they would have to change their image after the mess he made with their cause.[15]

Sanger admitted her motives were rooted in helping poor women, liberating sexual desire, and advancing the science of Eugenics.[16] Sanger wrote in her 1922 book The Pivot of Civilization, “Birth control, which has been criticized as negative and destructive, is really the greatest and most truly eugenic method, its adoption as part of the program of Eugenics would immediately give a concrete and realistic power to their science. As a matter of fact, Birth Control has been accepted by the most clear thinking and far seeing of the Eugenicists themselves as the most constructive and necessary of the means to racial health.”[17] The issue here not being birth control itself but the reason for birth control. The motive is the concern, and Sanger’s motive was prohibiting the further reproduction of the inferior population.

Here’s another sample of Sanger’s wonderful philosophy, “The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately. Every feeble minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives… Moreover, when we realize that each feebleminded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feebleminded.”[18] Or how about this pearl of wisdom, “The most merciful thing a large family can do to one of its infant members is to kill it.”[19]

You’d think Sanger would be a blemish in Planned Parenthood’s history, but this is not the case. Planned Parenthood’s website commends Sanger and provides a very detailed (yet one-sided) biography on her: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/history-and-successes.htm#Sanger. You’ll notice they left out her ties to Eugenics. She is instead referred to as a “great hero.” The former president of  Planned Parenthood  Alan Guttmacher claims, “We are merely walking down the path that Mrs. Sanger carved out for us.”[20] As is typical with all supporters of Sanger, they all ignore her eugenic past and instead focus primarily on her feminist activism for woman’s rights for which she is so heavily quoted and admired for.

But did other feminists agree with Sanger? Pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft condemned those who, “either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born.”[21] Susan B. Anthony referred to abortion as “infanticide” and “child murder.” She wrote, “I deplore the horrible crime of child murder… No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed.”[22] She also wrote, “When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged.”[23] Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who in 1848 organized the first women’s rights convention, said, “When you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”[24] Alice Paul who drafted the original version of the Equal Rights Amendment (a landmark feminist document) referred to abortion as “the ultimate exploitation of women.”[25]

Even feminists today still find themselves at odds with abortion, and more specifically Planned Parenthood. Serrin M. Foster, President of Feminists for Life writes, “Even though Feminists for Life has reached out to pro-choice activists to help provide more choices for women, ironically, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has called Feminists for Life’s solution-oriented program “anti-choice.” If providing practical resources that help women can be called “anti-choice,” something has gone terribly wrong.”[26]

Regardless of Sanger’s involvement, advocates of Planned Parenthood like to constantly point out all the good that Planned Parenthood does today with sexual education, STD testing, cancer screening, free birth control contraceptives, etc. For example, on the Planned Parenthood bus tour called the “Truth Tour,” the bus boasts of such statistics as “4,000,000 STD (sexually transmitted diseases) Tests”; “1,800,00 Cancer Screenings”; “2,500,000 Birth Control Patients”; and “830,000 Breast Exams.” The main banner on the bus reads, “Stand With Planned Parenthood.” We can agree these things are good, even though some of the tests Planned Parenthood boasts about are nothing more than referrals they give patients directing them to use other clinics that provide the services and tests. For example, the breast cancer tests Planned Parenthood boasts they’ve saved so many lives with, they don’t even offer, like mammograms, which even the Planned Parenthood website says; “Ask your health care provider, health department, or staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center about where you can get a mammogram in your area.”[27] But more importantly, there is something missing from those statistics mentioned above on the “Truth Tour.” Where are the abortion statistics?

Oh wait, here they are: 332,278 aborted in 2009.[28] Advocates of Planned Parenthood like to say abortion is just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does, yet Planned Parenthood has been conducting about ¼ of the abortions in America on average from 2006 to 2010 alone.[29] There’s nothing “small” about that. How come Planned Parenthood doesn’t boast about these abortion statistics? I mean it is the “Truth Tour” right? What Planned Parenthood does boast about is the numbers of preventative contraceptives it supplies which supposedly prevents over 400,000 abortions annually.[30] By boasting about how many abortions have been avoided, Planned Parenthood seems to give the impression abortions are bad. If they were good, why would they boast of how many are avoided? So per Planned Parenthood it is good to prevent a service they provide… seems a bit contradicting. This is clearly a spin tactic to persuade pro-life advocates to Planned Parenthood’s cause.

Yes it is true that Planned Parenthood provides many other beneficial services for family planning. But these benefits are not solely isolated to Planned Parenthood. There are hundreds of other public clinics and organizations (many free of charge) that provide the same services and education that do not provide abortive procedures. Planned Parenthood does not have a monopoly on family planning, STD screening and cancer screening services. Yet Planned Parenthood advocates seem to make it sound like Planned Parenthood is the only one in America doing these things and without Planned Parenthood no one will be doing it, which is hardly the case. Furthermore, trying to mask the bad with examples of good, no matter how numerous they may be, does not in any way make the bad go away. A man who murders may also donate to charities, pay his taxes, rescue abandoned animals, and do hundreds of other great things, but it still does not change the fact that he murders. We should not support organizations simply because they do “mostly” good. Especially when even the “good” they do is questionable at times.

There is so much more to write about Planned Parenthood, but I feel I’m beginning to get off topic. The main point I want to hit home is origins and foundation.  Planned Parenthood is an organization founded by eugenicists who do not care for the disabled, sick or weak, but instead want them removed. We are not equal in their eyes, we are a burden. The Bible however tells us that we are all equal, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth.”[31] “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”[32] Even our American Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” But in the eyes of Margaret Sanger that didn’t apply to you if you were an alcoholic, epileptic, imbecile, a blind person, a sick person, etc. You were to be removed from society.

We are not to cast out the sick and disabled, but to heal the sick, to help the disabled! “Don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”[33] Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”[34] “For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.”[35] “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”[36]

I cannot support Planned Parenthood because of what they stand for in entirety. Claiming they do more good than harm is in no way a convincing argument to persuade someone to support their cause. And as long as Planned Parenthood continues to stand by its founder and destroy lives through abortions I cannot support such an organization.


[1] Dr. Georgia Purdom, The NewAnswers Book 3, What about Eugenics and Planned Parenthood? (Green Forest: AR, Master Books 2009) Pg. 162.

[2] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 88.

[3] Charles Darwin, The Decent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1st Edition (London: John Murray, 1871) Pg. 105.

[4] This is found recorded in the ancient Law of the Twelve Tables from 449 B.C.

[5] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 16.

[6] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 58.

[7] Charles Darwin, The Decent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1st Edition (London: John Murray, 1871) Pg. 168-169.

[8] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 421.

[9] Joan Rothschild, The Dream of the Perfect Child (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005) Pg. 45.

[10] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 424.

[11] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 442.

[12] Dr. Georgia Purdom, The NewAnswers Book 3, What about Eugenics and Planned Parenthood? Pg. 161.

[13] George Grant, Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Franklin, TN: Adroit Press, 1992) Pg. 47.

[14] It would be later discovered that the “rapidly growing population” he was concerned about was actually the rapidly growing American population caused by an increase in immigration and longevity of life due to advancements in the quality of life in America.

[15] George Grant, Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Franklin, TN: Adroit Press, 1992) Pg. 61.

[16] Donald DeMarco and Benjamin Wiker, Architects of the Culture of Death, (Ignatius Press, 2004) Pg. 291

[17] Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, reprinted by Echo Library, 2006.

[18] As quoted in; Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003) Pg. 131.

[19] Margaret Sanger, The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in “Woman and the New Race.” New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.

[20] George Grant, Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Franklin, TN: Adroit Press, 1992) Pg. 63.

[21] Serrin M. Foster, The Feminist Case Against Abortion, http://www.feministsforlife.org.

[22] R.C. Sproul, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1990) Pg. 117-118.

[23] Mattie Brinkerhoff, The Revolution, April 1868 Pg. 215-216.

[24] Serrin M. Foster, The Feminist Case Against Abortion, http://www.feministsforlife.org.

[25] Guy M. Condon, “You Say Choice, I Say Murder,” Christianity Today June 1991, Pg. 22.

[26] Serrin M. Foster, The Feminist Case Against Abortion, http://www.feministsforlife.org.

[28] Chuck Donovan, “Cut Planned Parenthood’s Funding.” March 2011, http://www.cnn.com

[29] Statistics from National Right to Life, “Abortion in the United States: Statistics and Trends,” http://www.nrlc.org

[30] Cynthia Nixon and David Eigenberg, “Why We Should Protect Planned Parenthood,” Marc 2011, http://www.cnn.com

[31] Acts 17:26 (NIV)

[32] Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

[33] Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)

[34] Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)

[35] 2 Corinthians 9:13 (NLT)

[36] Matthew 7:12 (NLT)

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Comments
  1. matthew2262 says:

    “Every meeting that we had was, ‘We don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough money- we’ve got to keep these abortions coming… It’s a very lucrative business, and that’s why they want to increase numbers,'”
    -Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, who quite her job after witnessing an abortion procedure.

    Abrams, J., (Nov 2009) “Planned Parenthood Director Quits After Watching Abortion on Ultrasound,” FoxNews.com

  2. matthew2262 says:

    “Allegations of racism have repeatedly shadowed Planned Parenthood. No one should be suprised, given that its founder, Margaret Higgins Sanger, was a well-known eugenicist who believed that society would be better off if immigrants, blacks, and people with mental deficiencies or other handicaps stopped reproducing.”
    -Carol M. Swain, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbuilt University

    Swain, C.M. (2011) “Be The People,” Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., pp. 66.

  3. matthew2262 says:

    “[Margaret Sanger was] one of the great leaders of the international eugenics movement… [She] didn’t just peddle birth control and espouse eugenic views, as if these were two unrelated passions. Eugenics was at the very heart of her reasons for pushing birth control.”
    -Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D., Ethicist and author of “10 Books That Screwed Up the World.”

    Wiker, B., (2008) “10 Books That Screwed Up The World,” Washington, D.C.: Regnery, pp. 8.

  4. matthew2262 says:

    “The most obvious practitioner of racism in the United States today is Planned Parenthood, an organization founded by the eugenicist Margaret Sanger and recently documented as ready to accept money to eliminate black babies”
    -Dr. Alveda King (MLK Jr’s niece)

    http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=37420&page=1

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