This is an ongoing post. I initially intended for it to only be four parts, but the more I read with regards to the topic, the more I believe this might have to stretch further than that. If you would like to read the introduction to this series, this is the link.
As stated in the intro, and suggested through the title, we want to handle the eugenics aspect of the history of planned parenthood in this country. Although I would love to simply toss Margaret Sanger in the grinding mill, it is not going to be that easy. Her history and works, mainly her manner of propagating is tinged with opportunistic measures. She starts her career of promoting female contraceptives by exhorting Marxist philosophy, and it would be easy to romanticize her sacrificial tactics, if her later methods weren’t so repugnant. Through a series of events she changes her most pronounced tenets from that of an attack on the capitalist structure to eugenics. I suggest a thorough reading of chapter 4 of “Birth Control in America: the Career of Margaret Sanger” by David M. Kennedy for a detailed understanding of the changes she undergoes and the resulting rationale. One of her first “teachers” of this idea of birth control as a form of eugenics is a man named Havelock Ellis. Ellis has this to say in a piece he wrote in the Birth Control Review, a publication edited by Sanger, “A part from the relationship of morality – although the two are intimately combined, – we are thus led to the relationship of Birth Control to eugenics, or to the sound breeding of the race.” The title of the article this is taken from is entitled,”Birth Control in Relation to Morality and Eugenics”. If there was any doubt regarding the explicit nature of the relationship between eugenics and planned parenthood, let that doubt now be expelled from your thinking.
Due to the protean nature of Sanger’s argument throughout her career, it is difficult to argue that the promotion of contraceptives was originally eugenic in scope. It can be argued that once Sanger began to frame her discussion of pregnancy prevention and its resulting promotion of the practice of abortion, she began to be financially supported by names such as John D. Rockefeller and a host of other elites. There is a pretty lengthy history and dialogue with regards to eugenics, and the wording is either misleading due to attempts to avoid the question of morality, or simply too politic in execution. The danger here is that one might argue that the eugenics programs isn’t an attack on Blacks. I’d agree that the eugenics programs and philosophy isn’t solely aimed at Blacks, but given the history of western man, it would be difficult for me to be persuaded to believe that Blacks would not feel the full force of its implementation.
This line of reasoning automatically supposes a question I haven’t asked yet. Namely, who is the eugenics program seeking to remove, and who is the eugenics program seeking to create? As per the quote from Ellis, who exactly is this “race” that we are breeding “soundly”? It is here that I want to avoid the argument that these quotes are dated. Surely, when we address the historical nature of a thing we want to be clear about its present usages. In this instance, we want to be careful to understand that the same types of thinking regarding eugenics, or in a more euphemistic terminology-population control- still exists, as well as the implements of “planned parenthood”. In answering the question of “who?”, we are not delving into a solely historical discussion. The historical nature of this piece is simply to draw awareness to the language used during a time when it was more acceptable to allow words like “eugenics” to flow out of our mouths. Now that we live in a time when such phrases are startling and conjure up emotionally tinged thoughts of Jewish peoples being locked into ghettos and gassed in prison camps, we need to be able to follow the trajectory of the thinking that still exists in coded language. But, first, let’s try to nail the envisioned product of the original campaign of eugenics to a specific group of individuals.
A cursory glance at the quotes posted in the introduction to this series will allow us to realize that the target product of a eugenics campaign would be the further propagation of the qualities of the elite. Any characteristic that doesn’t fit into that mold, is well, as stated on numerous occasions through out the literature, the “unfit”. The target audience is never the rich, for they are the supporters and financial contributors to the efforts of birth control as a form of eugenics. Without much effort on the part of the writer, we can safely call birth control, population control. The equation would then be eugenics as a certain form of population control. It is population control with a specific aim at keeping certain types of people from being in the population. Those certain types would be, as per the quotes and suggested reading, members of the working class and the poor.
At this point in the discussion, it would better assist our understanding if we look at two words, a few numbers, and do a little reasoning with them. If I suggest to you that “power is in numbers”, and I quote to you the number of Chinese citizens compared to the number of US citizens, what would that suggestion mean if I then stated “China wants to war with the US”? If I continued to prompt you with this idea that, “indeed, there is power in numbers”, and then I mentioned the phrase, “majority rules”, what would that lead you to conclude with regard to democratic decision making? How would that suggestion(“power is in the hands of the numerically advantaged”) be applied when considering ideas such as, “you are not only in the minority, but you are ‘THE MINORITY‘”? Following from this line of suggestion(“the number of people you have is a major influential factor”), could we then agree that, those with more numbers are going to tend to want to keep a certain number of themselves around? If we were to say that, given the acceptance of the suggestion(“the more the merrier”), a group of wealthy and influential investors have been promoting a form of population control on a group of people with a nasty habit of warring between one another based on race, would you reasonably argue that those wealthy investors would seek to promote the reducing of the number of the members of their race, or that of the others?
Just some suggestions…(yes, I’m smiling wickedly). Continuing…
Even if the argument is that Sanger has been dead since 1966 and thus Planned Parenthood is not under the influence of her eugenics philosophy, the idea of planned parenthood as a model for eugenics/birth control/population control is not dead. This article is not an attack, subtle or blatantly on planned parenthood, it is an awareness raising tool. Planned parenthood indeed has been used by people who want to eliminate a specific group of people from the population. It can still be used as such, and it can still be being used as such.
Take a very focused listen to this video clip of Bill Gates:
I want to stop this discussion at this point, and continue in the third part of this series…