[Rushtalk] Margaret Sanger on Abortion

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at verizon.net
Thu Jan 24 03:46:07 MST 2013



What Did Margaret Sanger Think about Abortion?

|  January 23rd, 2013 at 02:30 PM  |


Yesterday, January 22nd, 2013, is the anniversary 
of a date that should live in infamy. It was the 
40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that 
legalized abortion throughout the United States.

At the forefront of the pro-abortion movement 
stands Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger, the 
organization’s founder, has a reputation as both 
a racist and eugenicist, but her words on 
abortion might surprise people. Take a look at some of her writings:

<http://www.bartleby.com/1013/2.html>Chapter II 
of her 1920 book Woman and the New Race, she states the following:

So, too, with woman’s struggle for emancipation. 
Women in all lands and all ages have 
instinctively desired family limitation. Usually 
this desire has been laid to economic pressure. 
Frequently the pressure has existed, but the 
driving force behind woman’s aspiration toward 
freedom has lain deeper. It has asserted itself 
among the rich and among the poor, among the 
intelligent and the unintelligent. It has been 
manifested in such horrors as infanticide, child abandonment and abortion.

 From <http://www.bartleby.com/1013/10.html>Chapter X of the same:

While there are cases where even the law 
recognizes an abortion as justifiable if 
recommended by a physician, I assert that the 
hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in 
America each year are a disgrace to civilization.

She doesn’t stop there, though. 
a speech to the Sixth International 
Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference, she said the following:

Human society must protect its children–yes, but 
prenatal care is most essential! The child-to-be, 
as yet not called into being, has rights no less imperative.

In 1930, Pope Pius XII wrote his encyclical 
Castii Connubii, which reaffirmed the Roman 
Catholic Church’s prohibition of abortion. In 
1931, Sanger wrote this 
her response to the encyclical:

Birth Control Does Not Mean Abortion

“The real alternative to birth control is 
abortion,” wrote Dean Inge, in his article 
already quoted. It is an alternative that I 
cannot too strongly condemn. Although abortion 
may be resorted to in order to save the life of 
the mother, the practice of it merely for 
limitation of offspring is dangerous and vicious. 
I bring up the subject here only because some 
ill-informed persons have the notion that when we 
speak of birth control we include abortion as a 
method. We certainly do not. Abortion destroys 
the already fertilized ovum or the embryo; 
contraception, as I have carefully explained, 
prevents the fertilizing of the ovum by keeping 
the male cells away. Thus it prevents the beginning of life.

In her 1938 autobiography, Sanger says the following on page 217:

To each group we explained simply what 
contraception was; that abortion was the wrong 
way­no matter how early it was performed it was 
taking life; that contraception was the better 
way, the safer way­it took a little time, a 
little trouble, but was well worth while in the 
long run, because life had not begun.

Now, as I said before, Sanger has a reputation as 
a racist and eugenicist, particularly among the 
pro-life movement. Such an assessment of her 
beliefs is definitely accurate, 
this video from the American Life League explains this very well.

Nevertheless, it is important to point out what 
she didn’t advocate, and that was abortion. 
review of four different books on Sanger from 
Dave Tell at the Weekly Standard, published at 
Roe’s 30th anniversary, offers the best 
assessment of her beliefs, with the most important part for this post being:

One final misconception about Mrs. Sanger must 
also be addressed, it seems, and in this case the 
truth will terribly inconvenience the propaganda 
efforts all around. It is not right, pace Planned 
Parenthood, that Margaret Sanger declined to 
advocate abortion on grounds that it was then a 
dangerous and illegal surgery. “There are cases 
where even the law recognizes an abortion as 
justifiable if recommended by a physician,” she 
wrote in 1920, and “we know that abortion, when 
performed by skilled hands, under right 
conditions, brings almost no danger to the life 
of the patient.” On the evidence in “The Woman 
Rebel,” the real reason Sanger declined to 
advocate abortion, notwithstanding the law’s 
flexibility and what she took to be the 
procedure’s safety, is that abortion appalled her.

She turned women seeking abortions away from her 
clinics: “I do not approve of abortion.” She 
called it “sordid,” “abhorrent,” “terrible,” 
“barbaric,” a “horror.” She called abortionists 
“blood-sucking men with MD after their names who 
perform operations for the price of so-and-so.” 
She called the results of abortion “an outrageous 
slaughter,” “infanticide,” “foeticide,” and “the 
killing of babies.” And Margaret Sanger, who knew 
a thing or two about contraception, said that 
birth control “has nothing to do with abortion, 
it has nothing to do with interfering with or 
disturbing life after conception has taken 
place.” Birth control stands alone: “It is the 
first, last, and final step we all are to take to 
have real human emancipation.”

Now, I am not trying to make Margaret Sanger out 
to be a forgotten saint for the pro-life 
movement, and there are many out there who might 
disagree with her on even contraception. 
Nevertheless, she did not condone abortion, and 
it appears she was even revolted by the 
procedure. In fact, Planned Parenthood itself did 
not offer abortions until the mid-to-late 1960s, once she had died.

So, for all of Margaret Sanger’s many issues and 
flaws, even she appears to have had some sort of standards.
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