Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and her controversial history back at center of abortion debate

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The recently leaked draft of a majority Supreme Court opinion suggesting that the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is on the verge of being struck down has flung controversial abortion advocate and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger back to the forefront of the abortion debate.

Sanger, a birth control activist and nurse who founded what became Planned Parenthood in 1916, has been mentioned by many conservatives on social media following the leaked SCOTUS opinion last week.

Sanger’s controversial writings and the uproar that resulted from them over the years caused Planned Parenthood to disavow her in a New York Times op-ed last year.


Sanger was a staunch supporter of eugenics, which was a popular method of supporting selective breeding that often targeted people of color and the disabled.

“It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets,” Sanger wrote in an essay titled, “What Every Girl Should Know.”

Margaret Sanger was a birth control activist and nurse who founded what became Planned Parenthood in 1916. Bettmann/Contributor

Sanger’s writings contain support for “stopping” the “reproduction of the unfit,” sterilization programs carried out by the Nazis. She was also a featured guest of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Seemingly every new approach to the great problem of the human race must manifest its vitality by running the gauntlet of prejudice, ridicule and misinterpretation. Eugenists may remember that not many years ago this program for race regeneration was subjected to the cruel ridicule of stupidity and ignorance,” Sanger wrote in 1921. “Today Eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems. The most intransigent and daring teachers and scientists have lent their support to this great biological interpretation of the human race. The war has emphasized its necessity.”

Planned Parenthood said last year that it can “no longer make excuses or apologize” for Sanger’s writings and actions but “can’t simply call her racist, scrub her from our history, and move on.”

“We must examine how we have perpetuated her harms over the last century – as an organization, an institution, and as individuals,” the nation’s largest abortion provider stated.

Fox News Digital reported this week that Planned Parenthood had been silent as to how they have examined Sanger’s past since denouncing her.


A report by the anti-abortion Life Issues Institute indicated in 2017 that a spate of new Planned Parenthood “mega-centers” targeted women of color.

“Our research revealed that an alarming 88% (22 of 25) target women of color. Disturbingly, 80% target Black communities, 56% target Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods and 80% target one or more colleges. In total, 96% (24 of 25) of the mega-centers target women of color, college women, or both,” it claimed.

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as justices hear arguments in the Mississippi abortion case. <span class="copyright">Getty</span>

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as justices hear arguments in the Mississippi abortion case. Getty

Some 39% of Planned Parenthood patients are people of color, with Latinos outnumbering people who identify as Black, according to Planned Parenthood. The organization hasn’t elaborated on how many of its 300,000-plus abortions every year are performed on Black mothers.

Planned Parenthood did not immediately respond to a request for contact from Fox News.

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.

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