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Margaret Sanger...Rebel or Racist

Updated on May 13, 2016

Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood and a women's right activist. There is much to be said for what she accomplished, but there is also a lot of controversy surrounding her ideals and motives. When I first read about Margaret I said to myself, "What a phenomenal woman!" Sadly after doing some more intense research I discovered some very unsavory things about her. Let's take a look....


Margaret Sanger was born September 14, 1879 in Corning, New York to a large family of eleven children. I believe that being born to such a large family is what motivated Sanger to pursue her cause. Sanger's mother suffered from tuberculosis and died at a young age. Margaret believed that had her mother had access to proper birth control that she may have lived a longer and healthier life. Margaret attended nursing school and became a nurse. That is where her story really begins....

Birth Control and Abortions

Of course during this time birth control was almost considered a sin and was also illegal. The same went for abortions. During this time in our history, the woman's role was to produce children, stay at home and take care of her family. However many times she got pregnant, she was to have the baby. A large family in these times was considered a great accomplishment. During the time Margaret worked as a nurse she seen things that made her heart bleed. Women were going to drastic measures to not go through with an unwanted pregnancy, Most of the time this would end in serious injury to the woman or even death!

Margaret made it her mission to fight for a woman's right to have birth control. So you say what is wrong with that? I applaud Margaret for her work concerning these two subjects, but on the darker side Margaret also supported another movement that was gaining momentum during this time...


For those of you who are not familiar with eugenics, it is the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits(positive eugenics). During Margaret's crusade for birth control she also supported sterilizing people who she felt were less than perfect. In her opinion anyone who had mental disabilities, racially inferior, promiscuous, or just plain poor should not have the right to reproduce. Now this is what disturbed me about the Great Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. She went far and near speaking to anyone who would listen. She even was quoted saying, "We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

Now some would say that this quote was taken out of context, and what she meant was that she did not want blacks to think this because this was not her intent. But at the same time she also felt that blacks were an inferior race of people who lived in poverty. Well according to her there are two strikes against this group of people. One being an inferior race and two living in poverty. One of her goals with Planned Parenthood was to have black mothers and their infant children sterilized so that they could not reproduce! She spoke at Klan rallies as well with this agenda. People during this time were being sterilized with out giving consent.

Rebel or Racist

So in conclusion, my question to my readers would be, could a woman who fought so hard for women's right also be so dark and heartless? Was she really the rebel that some make her out to be or was she really just plain racist? I truly believe that if Margaret Sanger had her way i would not be here today to write about her....Just a little food for thought!

Was Margaret Sanger a rebel or a racist?

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    • BrightMeadow profile image

      BrightMeadow 6 years ago from a room of one's own

      I believe it is possible to be both. You can do great things while still having unsavory personal character. People like Mother Theresa and Gandi are the ideals: they are people who lived as near as possible to perfection. But then you have people like Martin Luther King and John Lennon who advocated or did great things, but still had things in their personal lives that did not leave them beyond reproach.