Planned Parenthood has a founder problem. Margaret Sanger was a racist and a eugenicist. This is by no means news — critics of Planned Parenthood have been needling the organisation over her noxious ideas for decades. Finally, under the pressure of the anti-racist movement, Planned Parenthood has cracked.
An astonishing mea culpa in the op-ed page of the New York Times, by Alexis McGill Johnson, the new president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, appeared under the headline “I’m the Head of Planned Parenthood. We’re Done Making Excuses for Our Founder.” She writes:
Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions. We have defended Sanger as a protector of bodily autonomy and self-determination, while excusing her association with white supremacist groups and eugenics as an unfortunate “product of her time.”
From now on, says, McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood will tone down its association with Sanger and commit itself to combat racism and all forms of dehumanisation. “Achieving health equity requires fighting the systemic racism that creates barriers to sexual and reproductive health care.” (An eight-page “fact sheet” excusing Sanger as a product of her time has disappeared from the Planned Parenthood website). It will also work for trans and non-binary rights. This might seem like virtue signalling. But it’s not, she asserts — though not convincingly.
As critics of McGill Johnson’s statement immediately pointed out, Planned Parenthood is still proudly the largest abortion provider in the United States. And black babies are vastly over-represented. “Black women have been experiencing abortions at a rate nearly 4 times that of White women for more than 30 years,” according to a recent scholarly study. In some states, the ratio is far higher. In Wisconsin it is 5.6 times as high; in Michigan, 5.4 times; in Minnesota 4.78; and in Pennsylvania, 4.8.
As of last year, white people had been fatally shot by police at the rate of 13 per million, and black people at a rate of 31 per million. That’s 2.4 times as high – clear evidence, it is said, of systemic racism. But if abortions are 4 times as high, that’s counted as progress?
The same study on abortion points out that “abortion is unquestionably the most demographically consequential occurrence” for the black community. Put another way, encouraging abortion is unquestionably the most racist policy imaginable. An estimated 21 million black babies have been aborted since Roe v Wade – if that is not systemic racism, what is? Racism is the bread and butter of Planned Parenthood.
As Alexandra DeSanctis comments in the National Review:
Nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s clinics are located within walking distance of neighborhoods occupied predominantly by black and Hispanic residents. Despite constituting only 13 percent of the female population, black women represent more than one-third of all abortions in the U.S. each year. Black women are five times more likely than white women to obtain an abortion, and abortions are highly concentrated among low-income women. In recent years in New York City, more black babies were aborted than were born alive.
And as far as eugenics goes, write Charles A. Donovan and Robert G. Marshall in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Planned Parenthood should consider refusing to abort babies on the basis of foetal abnormalities.
Planned Parenthood can begin to redress its past by ending its current embrace of eugenic abortion. The organization has been involved in lawsuits against legislation in Ohio and Indiana barring abortion of babies suspected of having Down syndrome … Maybe Planned Parenthood is serious about abandoning eugenics. If so, it should endorse the idea that no baby should receive a death sentence because of a difficult diagnosis. Margaret Sanger might not approve, but your fellow Americans will cheer.
Along with racism and eugenics, McGill Johnson is also ditching feminism. She places the word in scare quotes when she explains that Planned Parenthood will be defending transgender people against trans-exclusionary radical “feminists”.
It’s bizarre that she regards this as progress. The founding inspiration of Planned Parenthood, according to its website, is “the revolutionary idea that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams.” Its second founding is based on an even more revolutionary idea: that some women have penises.
A lot of women must be asking themselves whether McGill Johnson (and Planned Parenthood) has lost her way or just her marbles.
Sixty-five years ago, another CEO rejected another founder even more abruptly. Nikita Khrushchev gave a secret speech “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Just as McGill Johnson denounced Margaret Sanger as a racist, Khrushchev denounced Joseph Stalin as a murderous narcissist. The similarities in the two documents are uncanny: self-righteous repudiation, a list of the founder’s crimes, and a new vision for the future.
Khrushchev finished his speech with a dramatic flourish:
We are absolutely certain that our party, armed with the historical resolutions of the 20th Congress, will lead the Soviet people along the Leninist path to new, successes, to new victories. … [Tumultuous, prolonged applause ending in ovation. All rise.]
We all know how that wound up. Hopefully Planned Parenthood is on the same path to ignominious extinction. Tumultuous, prolonged applause ending in ovation. All rise.
PS – will Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton return the Margaret Sanger awards which they received from Planned Parenthood?