5 Reasons Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger Shouldn’t Be on the $20 Bill
Though maybe we could compromise and use her picture on death certificates.
The New York Times is trying to stoke demand for the replacement of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, citing his cruel treatment of Indians. That has a certain logic to it, whether or not you agree. Besides, the Times says, it’s time we had a woman on some of our currency. Again, fair enough.
But it’s hard to take the paper’s objections to racism or its respect for women seriously when one of the candidates presented in the Times‘ symposium is Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, a sexual libertine who fought to make birth control not just legal but mandatory — for members of racial and social groups whom she considered “inferior.”
A devotee of the then-popular pseudoscience of eugenics, Sanger used its dubious theories to stoke the fears of native-born white Americans (mostly from Northern Europe) about the “inferior” genetic stock that was flooding into America from places like Italy, Poland and Russia.
Coincidentally, Christianity Today recently ran a sympathetic defense of Sanger, so there seems to be some collective amnesia about what she believed. I collected just a few choice quotes from Margaret Sanger (courtesy of Live Action) that ought to do more than keep her face off our money; they should move us to cut off the $540 million in taxpayers’ money (as of 2013) that supports Planned Parenthood — an organization which performs one-fourth of America’s abortions, covers up cases of statutory rape and teaches teenagers “the ropes” about how to practice sadomasochism. Here’s one quote for each objection to honoring Sanger in any way.
1. She saw human beings as unwanted pets.
“The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” (Woman and the New Race, ch. 6).
2. She believed that criminal tendencies are inherited.
“[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.” (“Plan for Peace” from Birth Control Review [April 1932, pp. 107-108]).
3. She wanted the federal government to decide how many children each couple could have.
Here are some choice suggestions from one of her policy proposals:
Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies … and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
Article 4. 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 …
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth. (“America Needs a Code for Babies,” March 27, 1934.)
4. She was a racist.
As part of her plan to reduce the size of black families, she wrote:
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. (Letter to Clarence Gamble)
5. She believed that the state should select who could have a family based on IQ tests.
Indeed, through her influence, some 12 states would adopt mandatory sterilization laws. Here’s how she justified that:
Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying … demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism.… [Philanthropists] encourage 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. (The Pivot of Civilization, Ch. V)
Now I don’t want to seem indifferent to the magnitude of the changes Sanger wrought in human relationships. Perhaps we could compromise with her supporters, and instead of putting her face on American money, we could use it on death certificates.