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Franks discusses Sanger, euthogenics

Robert Singer | Thursday, March 5, 2009

Angela Franks, author and Ph.D. of theology, linked the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, to the eugenics movement of the first half of the 20th century, while arguing that elements of eugenics – which attempts to improve the quality of the gene pool through selective fertility – are still present in today’s organization.

“We know Margaret Sanger because she established an institution and gave eugenics staying power inside an institution,” Franks said.

Franks lectured on “Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood: The Eugenics Connection” Wednesday night in DeBartolo Hall. According to Franks, Sanger, who is popularly known for her efforts to provide women with contraception, was also a prominent figure in the eugenics movement, which saw overpopulation as a problem on the horizon.

“Sanger is a eugenicist,” she said. “Basically she believed that birth control limits the bad genes and she saw it helping to keep the unfit from reproducing. The eugenic worldview doesn’t say that all people are created equally.”

In linking Sanger to the eugenics movement, Franks made numerous other claims.

“She said her work was nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit and preventing the birth of defectives or those who will become defective,” Franks said.

Franks also gave her perspective on Sanger’s motivations – which she saw not only as unproductive but harmful.

“Sanger believed in a sexual license,” she said. “She really believed that if women could live like her and have multiple lovers and no children, they could have freedom.”

Franks gave her view on Sanger’s philosophy of feminism.

“Sanger believes women are oppressed by their own bodies,” she said. “She talks about sex servitude. What she means is that women have a reproductive system, which tends toward women are oppressed by their fertility.”

“You get this ease, this ability to dehumanize the people she finds inconvenient,” Franks continued.

But Franks also made a distinction between what she views as Sanger’s extremism and Planned Parenthood’s current organization.

“I’m not going to be silly and say Planned Parenthood workers know about this history,” Franks said. “They’re certainly not conscious eugenicists. But I do think that the eugenic attitude that Margaret Sanger had has trickled down today.”

To support her claim that Planned Parenthood supports modern day eugenicists, Franks pointed to the international organization’s financial support of China’s efforts to control its booming population.

She also noted that the poor are the major recipients of subsidized abortions from Planned Parenthood. Presumably, Frank believes Planned Parenthood is motivated to limit birth rates among the poor to fulfill a eugenic mission.

Giving her view on abortion, Sanger said, “the death toll is staggering. Birthrates of African Americans have remained steady, while Hispanics have been rising. They’ve been targeted.”

Franks also responded to an argument of Planned Parenthood advocates who believe that helping to provide abortions to the poor will lower the amount of public money spent on welfare programs.

According to Franks, this argument is not true because of upward mobility. Americans born into poverty, she said, have a chance to become productive, taxpaying citizens.

Sanger also offered some insight to the anti-abortion movement.

“It’s important to understand that Planned Parenthood advocates for abortion,” she said. “If you have Planned Parenthood in your state, you have the premier lobbyist for abortion.”