News Articles

Hillary Clinton receives award named for famed eugenicist

WASHINGTON (BP)–When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received Planned Parenthood’s highest honor, it came in the name of a woman who promoted eliminating “the unfit” from the human race.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) presented Clinton with the Margaret Sanger Award at its annual awards dinner March 27 in Houston, Texas. Sanger founded an organization in 1916 that became Planned Parenthood.

Receiving the award is a “great privilege,” Clinton said after the presentation. “I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision…. I am really in awe of her,” Clinton said.

Sanger, however, was a eugenicist, a fact that goes unacknowledged by Planned Parenthood and certainly was not mentioned by Clinton in her speech at the awards ceremony.

“Planned Parenthood will try to say that she wasn’t [a eugenicist], but they pull her quotes out of context,” said Angela Franks, author of “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility. Sanger “completely embraced eugenic ideas,” Franks told Baptist Press.

Franks cited a quote from Sanger’s writings as evidence. Birth control “is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives,” Sanger wrote.

Eugenics is the belief the human race can be improved by discouraging or coercively preventing the reproduction of those people regarded as “unfit,” — normally the disabled and poor — or promoting the reproduction of the “fit,” those with genetic characteristics considered desirable.

Sanger, who died in 1966 at the age of 86, was an American leader in the eugenics movement during the early decades of the 20th century.

“No doubt Hillary wasn’t consciously thinking of Sanger’s eugenics attitudes [when she praised Sanger],” Franks said. “However, the left has totally embraced population control … and has been able to look the other way.

“It has always been pro-life conservatives who have been concerned about” such programs as China’s coercive, one-child policy, Franks told BP.

“So I think unfortunately that Hillary embraces a lot of things that Sanger did stand for” in the policies the Obama administration and she support, Franks said.

Since taking office, Obama has reversed the Mexico City Policy, which barred federal funds from organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas. He also has restored money through the State Department to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which had its congressional funding withdrawn by the Bush administration for seven years for its apparent support of China’s coercive population control program.

In her speech, Clinton said she was “very proud” when Obama struck down the Mexico City Policy. She also was pleased to tell the Planned Parenthood audience the administration would fund UNFPA, Clinton said.

The secretary of State assured the abortion-rights advocates that “reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women’s rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this administration.”

Access to abortion is a part of “reproductive rights” in the terminology of PPFA and its allies. The International Planned Parenthood Federation, another organization Sanger founded, was one of the beneficiaries of Obama’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America lobbied for the new administration’s changes in abortion policy. PPFA has become the United States’ leading abortion provider: Its affiliates performed nearly 290,000 abortions in 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available.

“They should really do some homework on their own founder,” Franks said of Planned Parenthood. “I think probably most people connected with Planned Parenthood don’t realize what [Sanger] said and promoted. I think Planned Parenthood tries to trade off of her name and her fame without coming to terms with their own eugenics past.”

Franks, who has a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston College, wrote her 2005 book based on her research of the writings of Sanger, Planned Parenthood and others in more than 30 archival collections.

“She promoted the idea that women were oppressed not by extra social structures and attitudes but by their own bodies,” Franks said. “For Sanger, women could be liberated and societal progress promoted through three aspects of control — birth control, population control and eugenics control.

“People really do believe, because of Margaret Sanger, [that] women are oppressed by their own bodies, instead of [by] things outside their bodies,” Franks said. “… So they want Sanger’s programs to succeed, and they want to be able to push birth control and abortion on the developing world.

“It’s very convenient for [the developed world] to believe Margaret Sanger, because then we can believe all the problems of the world are because women are having too many kids.”

Clinton received the award for “her unwavering support of women’s health and rights throughout her public service career,” according to Planned Parenthood.

During its awards ceremony, Planned Parenthood gave another honor named after Sanger to the CW Television Network. Its series, “Privileged,” received one of Planned Parenthood’s Maggie Awards for an episode about “safer sex” and the human papillomavirus vaccine.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.