Right To Life: VT Planned Parenthood must join NY in condemning Sanger

The Vermont Right to Life Committee calls upon Planned Parenthood of Vermont to join with Planned Parenthood of Greater New York in denouncing their founder, Margaret Sanger, for her active involvement in eugenics

On July 16, 2020,  the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund released a statement declaring that “racial justice, gender equity and access to abortion should be key components of reproductive rights.” The organization has also publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement, including the defunding of police.

“Despite their current rhetoric, Planned Parenthood of Vermont has never publicly distanced themselves from the eugenic beliefs of their organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger,” stated Mary Hahn Beerworth, Executive Director, VRLC.  “In Vermont, Planned Parenthood exerted their political dominance in our State House as they pushed through Act 47 and Proposal 5,  to protect their abortion business, allowing for abortion up to birth with no regulations. Planned Parenthood also secured additional state tax-payer monies in 2019,” continued Beerworth. “Vermonters should be concerned that an organization that has yet to denounce its eugenic past is expanding its reach in our state once again.”

Sanger’s Vermont Connection:
Margaret Sanger was not only heavily involved in promoting the eugenics movement that swept the nation in the early 1900’s, but was connected to the Eugenics Survey here in Vermont as well. Sanger joined those calling for the targeting of the poorest families for “voluntary sterilization.” In Sanger’s own book, The Pivot of Civilization, she referred to some people as “inferior classes” and used derogatory terms to define them: “fit” or “unfit;” “the feeble-minded and the mentally defective.” Sanger writes about the possibility that “drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon American society…” to limit the “over-fertility” of these inferior classes. Sanger’s association with the Ku Klux Klan is well-documented. (p 25)

Margaret Sanger’s involvement in Vermont’s Eugenic Survey was unique. Sanger was in direct contact with Henry Perkins, the pro-eugenics professor of zoology at the University of Vermont. Under the guise of the Vermont Commission on Country Life, social workers under the guidance of Perkins targeted poor families for extinction by sterilization. In Vermont, the victims of the program were often of Abenaki descent. After gathering enough “evidence”, social workers were allowed to commit members of a family to various state institutions such as the Brandon Reform School, Homes for Unfit Mothers, or jail. Once those institutions were filled, their victims were offered “voluntary sterilization” as condition of their release. The program’s promoters referred to sterilization as a “treatment” ostensibly for the disease of their defective genes. (Breeding Better Vermonters, the Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State.)

The so-called science behind eugenics was eventually exposed as false and the whole concept of eugenics fell out of favor as the horrors of Nazi concentration camps came to light.  Public opinion grew increasingly hostile to the notion of eugenics and eventually those involved, both nationally and locally, quietly folded up and dissolved their organizations.  

Ultimately, it was at Perkins’ personal urging of the members of the American Eugenics Survey (AES) that the board allowed Margaret Sanger and her organization to become the future of eugenics. From the book, Breeding Better Vermonters, the Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State, author Nancy L. Gallagher states, “Only after much deliberation and at Perkins’ urging, did they (AES) agree to collaborate with the Birth Control League, the predecessor of Planned Parenthood.” (p 131-132). Gallagher is one of the UVM researchers who discovered Perkins’ records in the library attic.  UVM has since dedicated a website to the discovery of what those records contain.

 In June of 2019, Tom Sullivan, then President of the University of Vermont, issued a formal apology for UVM’s involvement in the eugenics survey.

“The Vermont legislature is considering a resolution that would officially apologize for the state-sanctioned involvement in eugenics (J.R. H 7), yet Planned Parenthood of Vermont continues to celebrate Margaret Sanger and has not denounced her participation in eugenics,” stated Mary Hahn Beerworth, Executive Director of VRLC, noting:

  • Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Treasurer Steven W. Sinding (former Director General of International Planned Parenthood with a specialty in Population Control) was quoted by the New York Times in 2002 as saying that he “wants to rekindle the fire of the federation’s founders in 1952, among them family-planning pioneers like Margaret Sanger.”
  • As recently as 2007, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) launched a fundraising project and donors who give $1,000 or more would become members of the Sanger Society.The following is a line from PPNNE’s 2007 Annual Report“and thus was launched our new Sanger Society of donors making annual gifts of $1,000 or more.”
  • Nationally, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America bestowed their highest honor, the “Margaret Sanger Award,” to such grateful recipients as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

While Planned Parenthood continues to face criticism for their past, current accusations of “systemic racism” are coming from within the organization. Over 300 staffers at Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate in New York signed a letter of complaint against CEO Laura McQuade demanding her immediate removal:
The letter of complaint is thorough and extensive, but below is a paragraph from the section entitled: Racism and Weaponizing of the Work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Against Staff:

“Planned Parenthood was founded by a racist, white woman. That is a part of history that cannot be changed. While efforts have been made to undo some of the harm from institutional racism, many of these issues have worsened under McQuade’s tenure. After years of complaints from staff about issues of systemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility for Black staff, highly-paid consultants were brought in three separate times to assess the situation. Each time, employees of color were brutally honest about their experiences, but nothing changed. It is not possible to do justice to the scope and gravity of this issue here.”

Notes of related interest:

  • As Planned Parenthood testified to Committees of the Vermont House and Senate, they are the largest providers of abortion in the state of Vermont, performing approximately 1,100 of the 1,200 abortions performed annually.
  • Nationally, Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of abortion in the United States. It is well documented that in some cities, like New York City, more black babies are aborted than born.
  • Planned Parenthood of Northern New England applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program funds and received between $2-5 million. After discovering they were ineligible for the grants, they have refused to return the money.