On May 15, 2019, the Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, after both houses of the Alabama Legislature passed HB314. Upon signing the bill, Governor Ivey released the following statement:
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God. To all Alabamians, I assure you that we will continue to follow the rule of law. In all meaningful respects, this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years. As today’s bill itself recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered “unenforceable as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.”
This bill and other anti-abortion state bills have been crafted in a way to be challenged by their opponents with the ultimate goal of being revisited by the Supreme Court. So why do I bring up Margaret Sanger? Well, in order to know your future you must know your past and how we came to the present day.
Margaret Higgins Sanger was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term “birth control”, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The mission of Planned Parenthood is: to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual; to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services; to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality; to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications.
Kimberley Leonard of the Washington Examiner wrote an article on Planned Parenthood’s abortion operations earlier this year. Here is an excerpt:
Each year the organization releases a report on the services they have provided over the past fiscal year. The number of abortions by Planned Parenthood increased by 11,373 over the course of a year, according to the organization’s 2017-2018 annual report. The report shows that Planned Parenthood conducted 332,757 abortions for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, an increase from 321,384 during the previous fiscal year. Abortions make up 3.4 percent of the services Planned Parenthood performs, an increase from 3 percent the previous year. More than half of its clinics, or 357 out of roughly 600, provide medication abortions, which women can use up to roughly 10 weeks into a pregnancy. The annual report does not indicate the amount of revenue collected from providing abortions. Some health insurance companies cover abortions, other women receive financial help, and others pay out of pocket.
The Margaret Sanger Award is an honor awarded annually by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America since 1966. Created to honor the legacy of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, it is the Federation’s highest honor. Margaret Sanger was a strong proponent of eugenics, which is defined as the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition.
Here are some of Margaret Sanger’s notable quotes in regards to abortion and eugenics:
“The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
“A free race cannot be born of slave mothers.”
“When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race.”
It should be noted that some people claim her quotes have been taken out of context and we should not judge her life’s work on some poorly chosen words. While that may be true it seems to me that the same people who defend her statements are those who feel the ends justify the means in the defense of abortion and Roe v. Wade.
From what I’ve read about Margaret Sanger, her life’s work of birth control access and population control thru abstinence promotion and abortion was formed early on in life. Growing up in poverty, she noticed many wealthy families had fewer children while poorer families had many. Sanger was one of eleven children. Her mother went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) before dying at the age of 49. When you look at her upbringing and life as a whole, one can see through her own economic insecurity and belief of not having more children than you can afford, that her heart was in the right place.
Unfortunately, as with all good intentions, even the best-laid plans have lead to unforeseen consequences. Putting aside her belief in eugenics, which ironically was the same belief of Adolph Hitler’s quest to create a more perfect race, abortion has had a catastrophic impact on the reproduction and population of the black community in the United States. According to Right To Life Michigan, the impact of abortion on the black community has been tantamount to genocide. Here are their statistics:
More than 19 million Black babies have been aborted since the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in our country. Black women have a significantly higher abortion rate than Whites and Hispanics. 36.0% of all abortions in the U.S. in 2014 were performed on Black women, however, only about 13.3% of the total population is Black. African-Americans are no longer the nation’s largest minority group. Today, Hispanics have outpaced Blacks in population growth. For every 1,000 live births, non-Hispanic Black women had 391 abortions. Non-Hispanic White women had 120 abortions per 1,000 live births.
Was Margaret Sanger a racist when she said, “The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”
Which demographic was she referring to when she said, “… these two words [birth control] sum up our whole philosophy… It means the release and cultivation of the better elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination, and eventual extinction, of defective stocks — those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”
Did she believe that only those amongst us who are well off financially should have multiple children when she said, “All of our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class… Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral. Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race.”
Was she expressing atheist views when she stated, “My own position is that the Catholic doctrine is illogical, not in accord with science, and definitely against social welfare and race improvement.”
Did she believe that the government should have the final say in who should have children when she was quoted as saying, “No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit for parenthood.” She continued with that sentiment further when she said, “Permits for parenthood shall be issued upon application by city, county, or state authorities to married couples, providing they are financially able to support the expected child, have the qualifications needed for proper rearing of the child, have no transmissible diseases, and, on the woman’s part, no medical indication that maternity is likely to result in death or permanent injury to health.”
Many people who are for a woman’s right to choose often conflate birth control with abortion and tie the two together under the umbrella of women’s health. Margaret Sanger’s approach of population control through selective breeding has had a dramatic impact on the value we place on life to the point where we are divided on when it begins. For people who believe as she did that abortion done by those who face economic hardship leads to an improved society and financial prosperity there are many who were in the same economic position who chose life.
The debate over abortion is deeply personal and based wholly on how you were raised and your religious beliefs. While no one can fully understand the emotional impact of abortion more than the woman who has chosen it we have to accept that the decision was made through free will. If our constitution affords us freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness who are we to judge someone when they exercise those rights that are legal under a court of law? Regardless of how you or I may feel about abortion and the morality of it, the ultimate judge is waiting for us in the afterlife. To that I say may God have mercy on us all.