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Thu Sep 14, 2017, 08:35 AM

Freethought of the Day: Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger

On this date in 1879, Margaret Sanger (née Higgins), was born. Watching her mother die at age 48 of tuberculosis after bearing 11 children changed not only the course of Margaret's life, but world history. As a young child, Margaret was introduced to the power of the Catholic Church when the local priest locked the doors of the town hall to prevent agnostic Robert Ingersoll from speaking in Corning, N.Y. Margaret wrote in her autobiography of the spellbinding experience of hearing Ingersoll speak in the woods instead. She herself would later personally repeatedly experience being locked out of public halls, even countries, under Catholic pressure. Her experience doing obstetrical nursing of the poor in New York City as a young mother herself galvanized her conviction that women had the right to control fertility. Sanger's turning point was witnessing the death of patient Sadie Sachs from a second illegal abortion. When the 28-year-old mother had pleaded with her doctor for birth control, he had responded: "Tell Jake to sleep on the roof." Sanger researched contraception (coining the term birth control), while editing a monthly newspaper, The Woman Rebel (1914). Its purpose: to challenge the 1873 Comstock Act classifying contraception as "indecent articles" and preventing dissemination of contraceptive information. Facing 45 years in prison when indicted under the Act, Sanger fled the country, leaving behind a book, "Family Limitation." It sold 10 million copies while Sanger continued research in England and the Netherlands. When she returned to the United States, she was rearrested. Then her young daughter, Peggy, died of pneumonia in November 1915. Devastated, Sanger went on a headline-making speaking tour to challenge the charges, which were dropped in 1916. She opened the first birth control clinic that year, which was raided, and spent the next two decades educating physicians about birth control and overseeing the creation of birth control clinics around America. In 1934, she brought the lawsuit that finally overturned much of the repressive Comstock Act. Over her lifetime, she was jailed eight times, brought diaphragms to the United States and distributed them, helped develop contraceptive jelly, founded Planned Parenthood, and commissioned the creation of the birth control pill. Doing more to free women than any other individual, she was hailed as the "heroine" of history by H.G. Wells and named "Woman of the Century" by a U.S. magazine the year of her death. D. 1966.

https://ffrf.org/news/day/14/09/freethought/#margaret-sanger




No gods - No masters

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Reply Freethought of the Day: Margaret Sanger (Original post)
beam me up scottie Sep 2017 OP
underpants Sep 2017 #1
cyclonefence Sep 2017 #2
beam me up scottie Sep 2017 #3
cyclonefence Sep 2017 #4
beam me up scottie Sep 2017 #5
rurallib Sep 2017 #6
beam me up scottie Sep 2017 #7

Response to beam me up scottie (Original post)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 08:45 AM

1. In that pic she looks remarkably like Katrina vanden Heuvel

Just saying

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Response to beam me up scottie (Original post)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 08:57 AM

2. Margaret Sanger Eugenicist and perhaps Racist

Birth Control propaganda is thus the entering wedge for the Eugenic educator. In answering the needs of these thousands upon thousands of submerged mothers, it is possible to use this interest as the foundation for education in prophylaxis, sexual hygiene, and infant welfare. The potential mother is to be shown that maternity need not be slavery but the most effective avenue toward self-development and self-realization. Upon this basis only may we improve the quality of the race.

As an advocate of Birth Control, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the "unfit" and the "fit", admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit though less fertile parents of the educated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.

Birth Control is not advanced as a panacea by which past and present evils of dysgenic breeding can be magically eliminated. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism.

https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=238946.xml

Our heroines have feet of clay. Not to detract in any tiny way from what she did for (white) women and by extension all women and all men in the world, but as the parent of a genetically "unfit" child, I guess my "stupidly cruel sentimentalism" keeps me from honoring this woman as I otherwise might. My ever-growing awareness of my own White Privilege also makes this irksome to me.

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Response to cyclonefence (Reply #2)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 01:12 PM

3. Sanger's 'racism' is a right wing meme spread by anti-choice politicians.

What Margaret Sanger Really Said About Eugenics and Race

Last year, 25 House Republicans campaigned to have a bust of the pioneering family planner removed from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, where it has been included in an exhibit featuring American civil rights leaders, called “The Struggle for Justice,” with Ted Cruz’s office issuing a press release explaining that she didn’t belong there for a number of reasons, the most damning of which is that as part of her “inhumane life’s work” she “advocated for the extermination of African-Americans.” It’s not the first time Sanger has faced this accusation.

During this past primary season, Ben Carson proclaimed that Sanger “believed that people like me should be eliminated” —later clarifying, per PolitiFact, that he was “talking about the black race”—and in 2011, Herman Cain alleged that Sanger’s original goal for Planned Parenthood was to “help kill black babies before they came into the world.”

Historians and scholars who've examined Sanger's correspondence, as Salon reported in 2011, challenge those who call the activist racist.

***

Sanger’s stated mission was to empower women to make their own reproductive choices. She did focus her efforts on minority communities, because that was where, due to poverty and limited access to health care, women were especially vulnerable to the effects of unplanned pregnancy. As she framed it, birth control was the fundamental women’s rights issue. “Enforced motherhood,” she wrote in 1914, “is the most complete denial of a woman’s right to life and liberty.”

That’s not to say that Sanger didn’t also make some deeply disturbing statements in support of eugenics, the now-discredited movement to improve the overall health and fitness of humankind through selective breeding. She did, and very publicly. In a 1921 article, she wrote that, “the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”

She was, of course, not alone in this viewpoint: In the 1920s and 1930s, eugenics enjoyed widespread support from mainstream doctors, scientists and the general public. Planned Parenthood officials are quick to note that, despite her thoughts on the idea in general, Sanger “uniformly repudiated the racist exploitation of eugenics principles.”

In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. made clear that he agreed that Sanger’s life’s work was anything but inhumane. In 1966, when King received Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award in Human Rights, he praised her contributions to the black community. “There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts,” he said. “…Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision.”

http://time.com/4081760/margaret-sanger-history-eugenics/


Margaret Sanger didn't just help white women, she made it possible for all women to control their destinies.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #3)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 02:40 PM

4. Well, if she was good enough for MLK, she's good enough for me

Thanks for the information.

The material I posted was from her own writings. I guess it can be interpreted in more or less sinister (racist) ways.

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Response to cyclonefence (Reply #4)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 02:52 PM

5. She was definitely wrong about eugenics.

I understand how her writing can be misinterpreted, but that's exactly why the racism accusations from the right are so insidious - they impugn her motives by misrepresenting her own words and efforts in minority communities. They even tried to use a picture of her speaking to Klan women about birth control to claim she was a member. Anti-choice zealots hope that people will take their word for it and won't dig any deeper.

She must have been a very courageous woman.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #3)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 09:06 PM

6. Wish I could rec this clarifying post also.

Thanks for the info

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Response to rurallib (Reply #6)

Fri Sep 15, 2017, 08:07 AM

7. My pleasure.

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