Acknowledging founder Margaret Sanger’s ties to the eugenics movement as well as her “racist legacy,” Planned Parenthood of Greater New York said Tuesday it would remove her name from a building and also work to scrub her name from an honorary street sign.
Sanger’s support of eugenics has long been criticized by pro-life activists. She died in 1966.
Sanger opened the first Planned Parenthood clinic in 1916 and is considered the founder of the national organization.
In a statement, the New York Planned Parenthood chapter said the announcement “reflects the first of many organizational shifts to address Sanger's legacy and system of institutional racism, which negatively impacts the well-being of patients, staff and PPGNY’s broader communities.”
“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, board chair at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. “Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy. There is overwhelming evidence for Sanger’s deep belief in eugenic ideology, which runs completely counter to our values at PPGNY. Removing her name is an important step toward representing who we are as an organization and who we serve.”
The New York chapter also said it would work to remove her name from an honorary street, Margaret Sanger Square.
Pro-life activist Marjorie Dannenfelser said it was the “first time” in Planned Parenthood’s 104-year history “that they’ve acknowledged their racist roots.”
“The next step for Planned Parenthood is recognizing that Margaret Sanger’s racist legacy continues today, as abortion continues to disproportionately impact minority communities, especially the black community,” said Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List. “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 said the announcement should lead House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to return their Planned Parenthood awards named for Margaret Sanger.
“The pro-life movement will continue to fight for the legal right to life of every unborn child – regardless of their ethnicity, gender, and disability – and stand ready to lovingly assist their parents, no matter the circumstances,” Dannenfelser said.
Photo courtesy: Creative Commons/Library of Congress/Bain News Service
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.