This morning the New York Times posted an article about women that deserve celebration, but have largely yet to be celebrated. One of them on their list was Margaret Sanger. The article notes: “Ms. Sanger, a nurse, coined the term “birth control” during her decades-long fight to legalize contraception. She founded the magazine Woman Rebel, which was often banned by the post office. She was charged with sending information about contraception through the mail. She fled to Europe but returned to New York when the charges were dropped. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brownsville, Brooklyn.”
Who was Margaret Sanger? Maybe the best way to understand her is to look at her own words, on various issues.
“But for my view, I believe there should be no more babies.” Interview with John Parsons, 1947.
“The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Women and the New Race, Chapter 5, “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families.” 1920.
Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies… and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth. “America Needs a Code for Babies,” 27 Mar 1934
“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Letter to Clarence J. Gamble, December 10, 1939.
“I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan… I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak. In the end, through simple illustrations, I believe I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proferred.” Margaret Sanger, an Autobiography, published in 1938, p.366.
“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” “Woman, Morality, and Birth Control.” New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.
“Well, I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically — delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things, just marked when they’re born. That, to me, is the greatest sin that people can commit.” Margaret Sanger’s 1957 interview with Mike Wallace.
People whom Sanger considered unfit, she wrote, should be sent to “farm lands and homesteads” where “they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.” “A Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932, pages 107-108