Letters from Margaret Sanger: the Truth about Planned Parenthood

In the midst of our national discussion on Planned Parenthood, I decided to do some research to clear up the facts about their origins by doing a handy Google Books search on Margaret Sanger. Here’s what I found..

1. From The Case for Birth Control: a Supplementary Brief and Statement of Facts (1917):

When authorities prohibit marriage for the unfit, they have in mind the probable fruits of such marriage. Women suffering from the diseases mentioned in this chapter give birth to children mentally and physically inferior likely to sink into pauperism and certain to be in some way a burden upon society. If physicians were free to instruct parents how to prevent conception, the reproduction of their kind by defective and diseased parents living outside of institutions would be eliminated as a social problem.

In other words, Sanger believed that the “mentally and physically inferior” children of women suffering from insanity, epilepsy, alcoholism, and drug abuse (among other ailments) were better off never being born at all. Sanger and her crew of scientists and doctors wanted to play God, teaching others who ought and ought not to have children.

2. From The Pivot of Civilization (1922):

There is but one practical and feasible program in handling the great problem of the feeble-minded. That is, as the best authorities are agreed, to prevent the birth of those who would transmit imbecility to their descendants.

Here it gets even worse. Now Sanger is saying that not only are the insane and addicted unfit for bearing children, so are the stupid! In her twisted ideology, people of below-average intelligence shouldn’t have children.

She explains later in The Pivot of Civilization:

Modern studies indicate that insanity, epilepsy, criminality, prostitution, pauperism, and mental defect are all organically bound up together and that the least intelligent and the thoroughly degenerate classes in every community are the most prolific [at bearing children]. Feeble-mindedness in one generation becomes pauperism or insanity in the next.

So let’s get this straight: people who don’t know nothin’ just are too good at makin’ babies. So let’s stop ’em. They’ll bring the whole world to tarnation!

To put it another way, Sanger envisioned a world in which those of lowest intelligence would be constantly weeded out by preventing them from reproducing. Her utopia dystopia was one of government control, the strong eating the weak, and the smart dominating the stupid.

3. From Woman and the New Race (1920):

Being the most sacred aspect of woman’s freedom, voluntary motherhood is motherhood in its highest and holiest form. It is motherhood – unchained motherhood ready to obey its own urge to remake the world.

Voluntary motherhood implies a new morality – a vigorous, constructive, liberated morality. That morality will, first of all, prevent the submergence of womanhood into motherhood. It will set its face against the conversion of women into mechanical maternity and toward the creation of a new race.

Here Sanger concludes her book on women’s rights with a call toward her dystopian vision – ” a new . . vigorous, constructive, liberated morality” that keeps women from being baby-making machines and instead creates “a new race.” This new morality casts off the restraints of old morals (like caring for the weak, helping the poor, and raising up the next generation) in favor of something else – “women’s freedom.”

Her vision takes her even into the world of international politics and war, according to her 1917 Birth Control Review article, “Women and War“:

The great horde of the unwanted [unwanted children] has proved to be a spineless mass which did not have the courage to control its own destiny. Had woman had knowledge of birth control and brought into the world only such offspring as she desired and was physically and spiritually prepared to receive, society would have been far too individualistic to tolerate wholesale massacre for the benefit of money kings. Under such an order, the child would have been considered a priceless gift to the community. Manhood would have been too valuable to be sacrificed on battlefields. Motherhood would have been revered, and the mother’s voice raised to forbid the slaughter of her offspring would have been heeded.

So now Sanger blames World War I on unwanted children, arguing that, because children are plentiful (“the great horde of the unwanted”), lives become expendable (“manhood would have been too valuable to be sacrificed on battlefields”).  In essence, killing children before they are born prevents killing adults twenty years after they are born. This is the mass murderer accusing the serial killer. Sanger posits that child-murder saves untold casualties of war.

Then she goes on to say that we should kill unborn children in order to better value them (“Under such an order, the child would have been considered a priceless gift”). Since when does murder=value? Is it not the exact opposite of value? Is it not hatred for the unborn?

Again, Sanger’s argument falls apart at the words.

According to Margaret Sanger, one of the biggest reasons for the American Birth Control League, which would become Planned Parenthood, was eugenics and social engineering. She specifically targeted the hurting, the unstable, and the idiotic as those who ought not have children. She took it even further, desiring that the government empower women to create a new social order through selective childbearing, as if it were up to individuals to choose who ought and ought not to live.

HT: Little Catholic Bubble


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

14 Responses to Letters from Margaret Sanger: the Truth about Planned Parenthood

  1. Tony Sidaway says:

    You’ll get similar results if you look up Marie Stopes. The earliest campaigners for birth control were eugenicists. This doesn’t mean that birth control is of no use in modern society. Although motivated by now-discredited pseudoscientific theories, those campaigners brought us a great boon and improved women’s lives beyond comparison.

    • B Treece says:


      Thanks for perusing and wading in. I would argue that birth control is of no use in any society (because it does what is biblically a curse – stopping women from having children), but that wasn’t my argument here. I mainly wanted people to understand why Planned Parenthood exists and why they house themselves in particularly poor, urban areas.

      But I’ll take issue with your last sentence – how exactly does birth control (and do you include abortion as “birth control” – it definitely exercises control over birth) bring us “a great boon and improve women’s lives beyond comparison”? Because children hold women back? Because children are a burden not worth bearing? Because children are the evil chains of oppression wrapped around women’s waists?

      I love my children. I wish I could spend more time with them. That anyone would want to stop or kill chidren is the surest sign of arrogant, proud, self-exalting sin.

      For life, because it is God’s,

      • Tony Sidaway says:

        I wouldn’t include abortion as birth control because that isn’t how we normally class it. I would class abortion as one of the boons, but that’s a different matter.

        I don’t argue that having children is intrinsically evil, any more than eating is evil. Raising children and eating are both enjoyable in moderation.

        The effects of eating too much are well known, and I daresay you would agree that raising children when one does not have the wherewithal is at the very least an undesirable state of affairs. In that sense, the ability to plan whether and when to start a family and when to stop are a great boon.

  2. Pingback: Twelve Analogies for the Unborn « Your Cross on My Back

  3. Pingback: Children Are a Blessing, Not a Curse « Your Cross on My Back

  4. Tony Sidaway says:

    To “enjoyable” I should of course have added “and necessary.” Procreation and eating are not only recreational, but necessary for the continuation of life. If I don’t eat I die. If I don’t eat my line dies.

  5. B Treece says:


    Thanks for coming back. These are good thoughts in that they help us get to the heart of the issue.

    However, there’s an intrinsic problem with comparing eating to childbearing, as you do when you say, “I don’t argue that having children is intrinsically evil, any more than eating is evil. Raising children and eating are both enjoyable in moderation.” The problem is this: neither you nor I have the right to end a child’s life once it’s been created. Period.

    Creating and ending human life is God’s job.

    Here’s another problem with your logic: when we eat, we have to kill something – even lettuce, beans, corn, not to mention meat, have to come out of their natural habitat and die for us to be able to eat them. Maybe that’s the problem with your analogy: do you look at children as something to be consumed? Are babies just a little toy, an accoutrement in your grander scheme? No, sir, that won’t square on a number of levels.

    If they’re only enjoyable when you say so and necessary to continue your own name, then you are the arbiter of their goodness. But the fact is that children are a blessing whether we want them or not, so the problem lies in our hearts, not in their existence.

    Because God says children are a blessing,

  6. Tony Sidaway says:

    “The problem is this: neither you nor I have the right to end a child’s life once it’s been created. Period.”

    Well if by this you’re referring to the formation of a zygote, obviously we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    “But the fact is that children are a blessing whether we want them or not, so the problem lies in our hearts, not in their existence.”

    You have religious beliefs that place abortion out of bounds. I do not share your beliefs.

    • B Treece says:


      Thanks again. It’s good to get to the root issues.

      It seems that you’re hiding behind the “science vs. religion” facade. We can “agree to disagree,” but probably shouldn’t without substantial discussion first.

      So, according to your understanding of reality, when does life begin? When is a child worthy of your sacrificial protection? When is a child worthy of equal protection under the 14th Amendment? When is a child part of the “posterity” to which our Constitution guarantees the pursuit of “the blessings of liberty”?

      You can say you don’t agree, but first you ought to offer a better argument. Don’t cast off the pro-life position as one of merely mystical-religious foundations, deal with our arguments and respond. That’s the least the pro-choice camp can do. It may just be that pro-life arguments are better up and down (see abort73.com for more) than pro-choice arguments. If that’s the case, those who care should convert.

      As for my argument that your position is simply one of selfish, strong-dominate-the-weak superiority, what say you?

      Are children of intrinsic worth, outside of our whims, or are they not?


  7. Tony Sidaway says:

    Well, I reject arguments based on religious faith because they in about as far as the exterior of one’s cranium, outside which it amounts to nothing more than an argument from authority (“I believe X. Therefore X.”) I don’t think it’s fair to call that “hiding”. I came for a discussion, not an exchange of religious testimony.

    Your questions seem to be directed towards considering the right to life of the fetus. This right is already recognised in Roe v Wade, which I think strikes a reasonable balance on difficult terrain. Women have rights, too. I am frequently appalled by the opportunistic choice of that venue as a battleground in the United States, so if you’re up for a civil exchange of views I gratefully accept.

    • B Treece says:


      This is why I called stance “hiding” – everyone, yes, you too, has a worldview. Everyone has a set of beliefs and structures that shape the way he or she views the world. I’m just honest about mine. I’m familiar with that “religious faith has nothing to do with true reason” line of argumentation, but everyone has a worldview. You can’t just invalidate mine because you don’t agree, you have to offer better logic.

      What I’d like is an honest response from you – does a child have intrinsic worth, value, and rights apart from their parent’s appraisal? Or does their worth depend on what another (their parent) says about them?

      Then I’d like to hear how that plays out for children outside the womb, too. If the mistreatment of people outside the womb appalls you, Mr. Sidaway, so should their treatment inside the womb.

      Then you go on to “women’s rights.” If you’re so concerned with grown women’s rights, why not unborn little women? If you care about women’s rights, are you involved in helping unwed mothers find homes, families, and help? What about helping them place their children in adoptive families? No, it’s easier to take the child’s entire life away over a nine-month “inconvenience.” That math fails for both the women who are mothers and the women who are unborn.

      Why not rather be inconvenienced to uphold another’s rights?

      loving life,


      • Tony Sidaway says:

        I can’t and don’t intend to invalidate your worldview because it is not based on reason but belief.

        I believe that all people have rights, and that applies to those developing in the womb. On the rights of children, I have strong views in personal freedom. A vegetarian at the time, I took care not to impose my chosen diet on my children, and I did not impose my religious views on them. An adult child of mine, who still regards me as a mentor, recently came to me saying she was interested in religious worship. I helped her to select a religious community that seemed to match her approach to life. I’m an atheist.

        This belief in the rights of all people extends to the developing embryo, to a certain extent, but not in an absolute sense. I do not assign rights to a developing embryo up to about the end of the second trimester, because the medical evidence is such that I cannot conceive of it having meaningful rights at these early stages. It is not sentient, it lacks coherent brain activity, and is a very incomplete being altogether. I would be more willing to assign rights to an adult dog, which is sentient, capable of conscious reaction to pain, and has many other features asssociated with humanity.

        In later stages of pregnancy a well developed fetus should be treated with sensitivity and not lightly disposed of. Nevertheless the mother’s right to life and health may override its right to be born.

        Mere “inconvenience” would not be justification for a late term abortion in my opinion.

  8. Pingback: Goodness Doesn’t Depend on Wanted-ness « Your Cross on My Back

  9. Pingback: You Can’t Oppose Sterilization and Support Abortion « Your Cross on My Back

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: