- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2021

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson penned an op-ed officially denouncing Margaret Sanger, the organization’s late founder who supported the eugenics movement of the 1920s and ‘30s.

Writing for The New York Times on Saturday, Ms. McGill Johnson said Planned Parenthood had long tried to avoid coming to terms with the controversial past of its founder and whether she was a racist who supported abortions and increased birth control among the economically “unfit.”

“Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions,” Ms. McGill Johnson wrote. “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.’ Until recently, we have hidden behind the assertion that her beliefs were the norm for people of her class and era, always being sure to name her work alongside that of W.E.B. Dubois and other Black freedom fighters. But the facts are complicated.”

Ms. McGill Johnson cited Sanger‘s support for forced sterilizations among the so-called “unfit” and an instance in which she promoted birth control at a Ku Klux Klan rally in New Jersey in 1926.

“We don’t know what was in Sanger’s heart, and we don’t need to in order to condemn her harmful choices,” she wrote. “Reassessing Sanger’s history doesn’t negate her feminist fight, but it does tarnish it. In the name of political expedience, she chose to engage white supremacists to further her cause. In doing that, she devalued and dehumanized people of color.”

Sanger remains an influential part of our history and will not be erased, but as we tell the history of Planned Parenthood’s founding, we must fully take responsibility for the harm that Sanger caused to generations of people with disabilities and Black, Latino, Asian-American, and Indigenous people,” she added.

Ms. McGill Johnson said Planned Parenthood had taken steps to distance itself from Sanger, including renaming awards previously given in her honor.

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York last year removed Sanger‘s name from its Manhattan health center and “other independently managed affiliates may choose to follow,” Ms. McGill Johnson said.

“We pledge to fight the many types of dehumanization we are seeing right now: the dehumanization of Black and Latino victims of police violence such as Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many others,” she wrote. “The dehumanization of transgender people whose health care and rights are being denied in states across the country, and who face attacks not just from the right but also from trans-exclusionary radical ‘feminists.’

“Some might see this as virtue signaling, but Planned Parenthood is taking this work seriously,” she continued. “Margaret Sanger harmed generations with her beliefs. In our second century, Planned Parenthood has a chance to heal those harms. Reckoning with Margaret Sanger is one thing. We also need to reckon with ourselves.”

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