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Planned Parenthood Reckons with Margaret Sanger Legacy

By Lori Perkins

Image Taken from Planned Parenthood Website

The New York City Council voted to remove the name of Margaret Sanger from the square and street sign outside the Manhattan location of Planned Parenthood at Bleeker and Mott Streets.

For the past two decades, social justice advocates have pointed out that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the leading voice for birth control in the United Sates, was also a believer in eugenics, making the carrying out of her policies racist and abelist.

This was a hard legacy to balance, but I was glad to see that Planned Parenthood of Greater New York backed this unnaming to acknowledge the duality of her legacy in a straightforward way.

In a statement emailed out PPGNY said, “The un-naming of Margaret Sanger Square and removal of the street sign demonstrates our commitment to reckoning with the totality of Sanger’s legacy and systemic racism and ableism, which negatively impacts the well-being of Planned Parenthood patients and staff.

Margaret Sanger, who founded the organization that became Planned Parenthood, was a champion of birth control, which expanded bodily autonomy for many, including women of color. She also embraced eugenics — a racist and ableist ideology that deemed certain people unfit to parent. Through her support of eugenics, Margaret Sanger helped to build a reproductive rights movement that also deepened injustice in the health care system and denied bodily autonomy to communities of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, families with low incomes, and others.

Her actions some 100+ years ago continue to be weaponized by Planned Parenthood opponents that are often outside the doors of PPGNY’s Manhattan health center. Public acknowledgment of Sanger’s actions upholds PPGNY’s mission to create a future where every person—regardless of their race, income, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, abilities, or inabilities—can access expert, compassionate sexual and reproductive health care without shame or judgment.”


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