It is extremely difficult these days to find trustworthy sources on Margaret Sanger's views. Anti-abortion activists are only too willing to vilify her and distort her positions for their own political ends. On the other hand, the statement on the Planned Parenthood site that Sanger "consistently and firmly repudiated any racial application of eugenics principles" is clearly contradicted by the following passages from The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928. The book is the first volume to come out of the extensive Margaret Sanger Papers Project at New York University.
For starters, Amazon reports "54 pages with references to eugenics in this book." Here's a handful of relevant clips...
- "Birth Control and Racial Betterment"
February 1919, pp. 253-254
...we insist that information in regard to scientific contraceptives be made open to all. We believe that if such information is placed within the reach of all, we will have made it possible to take the first, greatest step toward racial betterment and that this step, assisted in no small measure by the educational propaganda of eugenists and members of similar schools, will be taken....
While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and the syphiletic [sic], I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit....
Eugenics without Birth Control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit. It cannot stand against the furious winds of economic pressure which have buffeted into partial or total helplessness a tremendous proportion of the human race. Only upon a free, self-determining motherhood can rest any unshakable structure of racial betterment.
- "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda"
October 1921, p. 319
Seemingly every new approach to the great problem of the human race must manifest its vitality by running the gauntlet of prejudice, ridicule and misinterpretation. Eugenists may remember that not many years ago this program for race regeneration was subjected to the cruel ridicule of stupidity and ignorance. Today Eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems....
In the limited space of the present paper, I have time only to touch upon some of the fundamental convictions that form the basis of our Birth Control propaganda, and which, as I think you must agree, indicate that the campaign for Birth Control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal with the final aims of Eugenics.
- Letter to Ross Delano Aldrich Dunn
October 1923, p. 383
Indeed, it has been a great surprise to me, during the past several years to find, that neither the medical societies throughout the country nor even the Eugenic Society -- both with the unlimited means for the enactment of such legislation, have failed utterly to encourage sterilization of the unfit or to educate the public that it should be done.
- "Racial Betterment"
radio address, Vassar College, August 5, 1926, Poughkeepsie, NY, pp. 453-454
There are two problems now confronting civilization. The pressure of population on the food supply of the world, and the reconciliation of humanitarian practices with race betterment.
...while we close our gate to the so-called "undesirables" from other countries, we make no attempt to discourage or cut down on the rapid multiplication of the unfit and undesirable at home.
In fact through our archaic and inhuman laws against birth control information the breeding of defectives, idiots, insane and feeble-minded becomes a necessity.
These types are being multiplied with the breakneck rapidity and increasing far out of proportion to the normal and intelligent classes...
The American public is taxed, heavily taxed, to maintain an increasing race of morons, which threatens the very foundations of our civilization.
in the name of eugenics
eugenics, american racism, and german national socialism
“ Leon F. Whitney, secretary of the American Eugenics Society, was similarly supportive of Hitler's race policy. In a note sent to several newspapers in 1933, Whitney, speaking for the American Eugenics Society, claimed that Hitler's sterilization policy had demonstrated the Führer's great courage and statesmanship. ...he described the measures as evidence that "sterilization and race betterment are ... becoming compelling ideas among all enlightened nations." [p. 46]