Side note: I am not mentioning the three people here for a very simple reason -- I don't want it to seem like I'm calling them out. Just writing out my thoughts is one thing, pulling focus on the individuals turns it into a direct attack on their ideas and beliefs. I don't do that without a damn good reason, and I don't feel I have one here. This is not meant to affirm or disprove what they hold true, it is just my conclusion to issues that they raised, based on very real concerns they have every right to have. The original post, I spoke my mind, they spoke theirs, and that's all there is to it. I am speaking my mind again, and it is up to them whether or not they wish to call attention to themselves, the choice is theirs. This is an op-ed piece, not a declaration of war.
This theory actually has been around for a while. Those of us who remember former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain know he said it back in 2011. I pretty much disregarded it then, as this was Cain, a guy selling an advertising slogan (the 9-9-9 Plan) as fiscal policy, so I thought his statement on PP was equally outlandish and stupid. But now, R candidate Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, is making the claim on the campaign trail as he talks about the sanctity of life of the unborn (Carson authored papers back in 1992 where he experimented on 17 week old fetal tissue, the age he's been harping on to protect unborn life. He's saying that not only was it okay because of his intent, but he has no objection to experimenting on fetal tissue. Mr. Carson, please wait out in the hall while us grown-ups talk, m'kay?).
When I got the messages and saw the responses to other posts, I have to admit I didn't know how to react. I knew Sanger was a eugenicist, but that was almost a century ago. Her beliefs can't still be influencing the organization now, can they? And there was just one little problem with dismissing the idea as a conspiracy theory -- every once in a while, conspiracy theories turn out to be true (just off the top of my head? Project MKUltra and the Tuskegee Institute experiments). So I started wondering, was there something to this? And where do I start if I want to find answers?
Turns out, I didn't have to look very hard, NPR else did the legwork for anyone with an inquiring mind (I know some people will say, "But Peter! NPR is lefty! Of course they're going to run an article favoring one of their allies!" Counterpoint: Ben Carson and Herman Cain are righties, so they could potentially be advancing an agenda just like NPR is. NPR is showing its work, what it found, and how it reached its conclusion. Carson and Cain have not. Given this, I have to give more credence to NPR). On August 14th, Amita Kelly authored a piece that dove into the allegations of PP and its clinics and whether or not this was a eugenics conspiracy. So what was found?
The article specifically addresses four key points arising from Ben Carson's statements, and they are points that seem to be common to regular commentors and posters on the Internet. Since Carson pretty much summed up the whole thing up, let's let him do the talking for the moment. From Fox News Wednesday, August 12, 2015:
"Maybe I am not objective when it comes to Planned Parenthood, but, you know, I know who Margaret Sanger is, and I know that she believed in eugenics, and that she was not particularly enamored with black people.
"And one of the reasons you find most of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so that you can find a way to control that population. I think people should go back and read about Margaret Sanger who founded this place — a woman Hillary Clinton by the way says that she admires. Look and see what many people in Nazi Germany thought about her."
Thank you, Mr. Carson. You are excused back to the hallway. Now, let's take a look at the map.
So, point one: was Sanger a eugenicist? ...well...kind of, just not to the extreme that modern eugenics goes to. Based on her writings from the time, her goal seemed to be to eliminate bad traits, not eliminate any races. She saw good breeding as a way to, say, eliminate birth defects, and maintained people should have any children they wanted. So, the short answer is yes, she was a eugenicist. The long answer is, she wasn't that kind of eugenicist.
Moving on to point two: was Sanger a racist? While the eugenics thing is open to interpretation, the racist question is a flat-out "no." In 1946, Sanger wrote, "The Negro race has reached a place in its history when every possible effort should be made to have every Negro child count as a valuable contribution to the future of America." No matter how you try to parse this sentence, it doesn't say anything about reducing and/or elminating blacks from social influence, but making sure they are an equal part of the country ("every possible effort" suggests things like education, not marginalization). So this one whiffs.
Point three: are most PP clinics in black neighborhoods? From a practical standpoint, this one is very hard to argue against. After all, PP leagues started appearing in Harlem in the 1920's. Sanger worked with W.E.B. DuBois, the found of the NAACP, to get safe contraception to blacks. And PP does not give out numbers for its specific clinics. But it is possible to do some extrapolating. The Guttmacher Institute, which I cited in one of my original responses, reports that, as of 2014, there are nearly 2,000 abortion providers total (that includes PP in the mix) in the US. 60% of them are in majority-white neighborhoods. Okay, that's in general, but what about PP and its, for lack of a better phrase, selective targeting? Well, NPR requested demographic information from them, and in 2013, 14% of their patients nationwide were black (the article says that is nearly equal to the percentage of blacks in the US population). Whiff two.
That leaves one last point: did Sanger have ties to Nazi Germany? Well, considering that she joined the Anti-Nazi Committee in 1939 "and gave money, my name, and any influence I had with writers and others, to combat Hitler's rise to power in Germany" and she had friends who were killed or sent to camps, that's another "No," another whiff, and from my point of view, retires the side.
Now, I want to point out that this is not just my opinion, but my conclusion. There will be people who read this and think it over. There are those who will read this and seize it as proof that they are right. And there are those that will read this and think I am completely and unequivacolly wrong. Once again, this isn't to declare war or put people down or anything like that. We still have to reach our own conclusions, and maybe these people who still believe this is a conspiracy are right and there just isn't enough to back them up yet (let's face it -- the American government did a LOT of unethical experiments on blacks. I don't blame anyone for finding such actions suspect). Read the article or not, agree or disagree with me, it's up to you.
But, for me? Is PP part of a eugenics conspiracy? I just don't buy it.