sophia_sadek (sophia_sadek) wrote,

The Case Against the Case Against Planned Parenthood

Pro-life groups have promoted the notion that Planned Parenthood is a racist organization dedicated to the genocide of African Americans and other marginalized peoples of color. Their case is based on a few flawed assumptions and some deliberate misrepresentations. They attack Margaret Sanger with fury in such a way that exposes the deceptive nature of their mission. They take information out of context in order to make it signify the opposite of its true significance. They use a poorly structured, possibly criminal, telephone study to put Planned Parenthood in a negative light. They lean on the sentiments of racially sensitive African American leaders to associate Planned Parenthood with authentic racist elements in American society. They display a lack of understanding of what genocide really is.

In her autobiography, Margaret Sanger describes her first encounter with a KKK women's auxiliary group. Her description of the encounter puts the Klan women in a dim light. She describes the experience as bizarre and the women as poorly educated. Pro-lifers ignore this aspect of her account and go so far as to characterize the meeting as a Klan rally when it was not. They also fail to consider the fact that Sanger was at the meeting to talk about her own mission of promoting women's rights, not the Klan's mission.

[More inside]Pro-lifers also misrepresent Sanger's relationship with the eugenics movement. Her autobiography contains references indicating a sympathy with the movement, but it also contains indications that she had difficulty getting the eugenics advocates to support her own work. Eugenics depends on involuntary sterilization rather than voluntary methods. Sanger's mission was reducing the burden on women that comes with unplanned pregnancy. She sought to empower women to take control of their own fertility. Eugenics does the opposite by denying women control. Pro-lifers deliberately ignore the fact that the most extreme advocates of eugenics opposed reproductive freedom. The Nazis shut down family planning programs in their territory.

One of the more pathetic attacks on Planned Parenthood involved "researchers" who called Planned Parenthood offices with deliberate racist appeals. (The calls may have been recorded illegally.) The racist calls claimed to advocate the abortion of African Americans out of fear of competition. Planned Parenthood has a policy of allowing donors to target their funds to a specific ethnic group. Pro-lifers claim that this makes them racist when it is the donors that are racist. The irony of the competition argument is that planned families probably have more competitive children than unplanned families. The calls were reproduced in the propaganda film "Maafa 21" which admits that the project was funded by Live Action, a pro-life group.

The film also parades the work of Samuel Yette to support the contention that there was a conspiracy to use birth control as a weapon of genocide. Yette's work is an excellent treatise on the assault on civil rights by the Nixon administration and other racist politicians. He details the reaction in Washington to a situation of near-famine conditions in the rural South. Southern states were diverting federal food subsidies intended for the poor away from African American communities. As part of the reaction to this situation, certain congressional leaders attempted to advance legislation that would make abortion and sterilization mandatory for young unwed women. Planned Parenthood was mentioned as being the only health care available for free to poor blacks in the South. There is absolutely nothing in Yette's work that links Planned Parenthood to the racists who supported forced abortion and sterilization.

The attack on Planned Parenthood has exposed the pro-life movement to ridicule. It has attempted to enlist minorities in a program that is detrimental to minority interests. It uses deceptive tactics that reflect poorly on the movement. It exploits the work of people like Yette who stands at an opposite political pole. Most embarrassing, it demonstrates an unfamiliarity with what actually constitutes genocide.

Links: Arina Grossu repeating propaganda about Sanger and the Klan. Margaret Sanger's autobiography. Samuel Yette's work on Nixon administration misdeeds.
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