NY Planned Parenthood is dumping Margaret Sanger’s name but it’s keeping her legacy, pro-lifers say

A member of the New York Police Department stands outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Manhattan borough of New York, November 28, 2015. | Reuters/Andrew Kelly

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced Tuesday that it's disassociating from its founder, Margaret Sanger, for her “racist legacy” and view on eugenics. But pro-life advocates say that despite dropping her name, the abortion business is carrying on her legacy.

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced it will remove Sanger’s name from its buildings and a street sign and both will be renamed, according to PPGNY’s statement.

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” said Karen Seltzer, board chair at PPGNY.

Nia Martin-Robinson, director of Black Leadership and Engagement at Planned Parenthood,  that police violence, access to healthcare and abortion criminalization are “the real problem” black Americans face.

Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action, responded on Twitter, saying, "The evil that Margaret Sanger started when she founded Planned Parenthood 100 years ago pales in comparison to the atrocities the corporation does today. Every day, Planned Parenthood kills 900 babies. 900 irreplaceable, precious human lives destroyed."

NFL athlete, author and pro-life advocate Benjamin Watson responded to the Planned Parenthood clinic's decision in a segment on "Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream," Tuesday where he said: "To denounce or disavow Margaret Sanger for Planned Parenthood that's surprising considering what they've said about her, giving out awards in her honor and touting her has a hero."

"The legacy of Margaret Sanger is being carried out in the present," he continued. "While at one time we're looking back and denouncing her for what she said then — the racism, the eugenicism ... They have to realize that they are literally carrying out her legacy today as mothers and children and fathers and families are being broken up because of the atrocity of abortion. 

"Let's talk about how people who are affected by the racism that they're denouncing from Margaret Sanger are the ones that are most affected by this because of so many other factors that are driving people who are poor and minorities into their clinics. And they're not offering them help. What they're offering is the option to terminate pregnancies. The legacy is being continued."

Watson, who's also working on a pro-life film, shared the Fox News segment on Twitter where he added: "Disavowing Margaret Sanger for her eugenic racist ideology is a hollow gesture when you continue to perpetuate her legacy with your actions. Preserve life while combatting the harmful institutional racism you denounce on this day. But first preserve life..." He then added the number 345,672," which is the number of babies aborted at Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide last year. 

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, who has long been calling on cities to stop honoring Margaret Sanger, wrote on Twitter: "For years, the pro-life movement has been treated like 'crazy conspiracy theorists' for raising the point that Planned Parenthood was founded in racism. Today, Planned Parenthood of NY re-affirmed what we've been saying for decades."

Students for Life has also launched a "Strike Out Sanger" petition, urging supporters to demand that the Smithsonian Museum remove Sanger's image from the National Portrait Gallery and for New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, to "stop honoring this racist."

Margaret Sanger’s ties to eugenics and racism was apparent when she held a speech with a branch of the New Jersey Ku Klux Klan, according to The Daily Signal. In the speech, Sanger made anti-immigrant remarks for genetic control reasons. She also called Australia’s Aborigines “the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development.”

Eugenics, or the process of using selective breeding on people to control a population. Eugenic practices were legal in the United States from 1907 to 1940 and led to “sterilization” of 64,000 Americans, according to Eugenic Sterilization Laws by Paul Lambardo.

According to The Daily Signal, Sanger was not an advocate for abortion. 

"She thought that access to birth control was a 'human right' — but was repulsed by abortion. 'In my opinion it is a cruel method of dealing with the problem,' Sanger wrote upon returning home [from the Soviet Union], 'because abortion, no matter how well done, is a terrific nervous strain and an exhausting physical hardship,'" The Daily Signal noted.

This has led many opponents of Planned Parenthood to say that the nation's largest abortion business exceeded Sanger's objectives by slaughtering millions of black babies. 

Elizabeth Harrington, a national spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, wrote on Twitter: "If they truly disavowed Margaret Sanger, they would close up shop Planned Parenthood has fulfilled Sanger's mission: 19 million black babies have been aborted since 1973."

PPGNY added in its statement that it's starting an initiative called Reviving Radical. The initiative is said to focus on “Planned Parenthood’s legacy and contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color and divesting from and dismantling white dominant organizational cultural norms and values.”

Dr. Lynn Roberts, commissioner of Planned Parenthood’s Reviving Radical, said in the statement that she's glad Sanger’s name will be removed.

“I am heartened by the decision by PPGNY to rename its Manhattan Health Center,” Roberts said. “While this comes at a time when the entire nation is reckoning with its sordid past and present realities of racial injustice, I am even more encouraged that this symbolic gesture is also accompanied by a deeper commitment to take even bolder steps toward institutional transformation.”

PPGNY did not provide a date for when Sanger’s name will be removed from buildings and the street sign. 

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