By Mary Kizior
History remembers Margaret Sanger as the founder of Planned Parenthood and hails her as a champion of women’s rights. In reality, the real Margaret Sanger was concerned with more than just women’s rights.
In Sanger’s view, poverty was caused by too many people, so in order to eliminate poverty, she believed we must eliminate people. Because of the emergence of the eugenics movement in the early 1900s it’s easy to understand how Sanger developed her ideas. But what’s hard to fathom is how average Americans swallowed Sanger’s lies, forever changing the moral fabric of American society.
In 1932, as the world still recovered from the Great War, Margaret Sanger spoke and wrote about her plan for world peace. Sanger’s answer to end war was to eliminate the people, not their problems. Instead of addressing world problems like communication between nations or a worldwide effort to end hunger and poverty, Sanger argued for birth control, strict immigration laws, voluntary segregation and sterilization of the unfit, and regulation of family size. Sanger even wanted a “Population Congress,” which would help improve the general intelligence of the American population and decide if married couples were fit to become parents.
Sanger believed that the segregation and sterilization of “unfit” members of society was completely harmless. Although Sanger did not advocate the mass murder of the “unfit,” the basic principles of the birth control movement that she laid out in her writings and speeches advocate the sterilization of people with hereditary diseases or intellectual disabilities.
For Sanger, the elimination of the “unfit” was right and the highest priority of the state, which had the power to use whatever methods necessary to protect society. “Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism” (“The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” The Birth Control Review, October 1921). In Sanger’s plan, the rights of the state to control the population could outweigh the rights of the individual to have children in some circumstances. Sanger’s plan sounds more like a corrupt dystopian society than a way to achieve real world peace.
The plan in practice
Because of the horrifying events of the Holocaust, it is impossible not to compare Sanger’s plan for peace with Hitler’s Final Solution. Even before Hitler came to power, Germany was in the midst of implementing a eugenic policy that used birth control and eugenics to control its population. When Hitler took control in Germany in 1933, the Nazis created eugenic courts to determine who could and who could not have children, basing “fitness” to become parents on race. Before the war, Sanger applauded their efforts, reminding her readers that voluntary sterilization was not enough to save the United States from becoming overrun with the “unfit” as well.
The Nazis didn’t stop with sterilization or segregation of those they deemed racially inferior. They tightened restrictions on abortion and birth control for Germans, but allowed certain women to have abortions for medical or racial reasons. In other words, abortion for pure blooded Germans was a serious crime, but Jewish and Eastern European women could kill their preborn legally and without hindrance. Because they were still trying to build their population after the Great War, the Nazis couldn’t afford for their Aryan citizens to kill their preborn children who might one day serve in the army of the Third Reich.
Sanger was not a Nazi, but she shared their passion for eliminating the unfit by whatever means necessary for the good of society. The same ideas on sterilization, segregation, and world peace for which Sanger applauded Nazi Germany led to the mass murder of millions of human beings in concentration camps throughout Europe. Once society is convinced that human lives are cheap, there is nothing that can stop the calculated destruction of human beings.
We can blame people like Hitler and Sanger for the deaths of millions of people in the Holocaust or because of abortion, but for us, history should be a cautionary tale. Margaret Sanger was just one person who helped eugenics spread throughout the world with her campaign for birth control. What if more people had spoken out against her ideas or challenged her on her horrific ideas that some human beings are worth more than others?
The lives of millions of human beings are at stake. If we want to keep history from repeating itself, we have to do something. It isn’t enough to say you support preborn babies. You actually have to go and do something about your beliefs.
This fall, American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program is launching a unit study video series for high school students to teach them the truth about Margaret Sanger and her ideas about birth control which led to the decriminalization of abortion. Visit our Kickstarter page and spread the word about this important project by sharing the page with your friends.
What will you do to reverse the damage of the culture of death?
Mary Kizior is a content developer for American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program, which stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to find how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.