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Margaret Sanger’s Eugenics Heyday in the Federal Government


On both the state and federal level, long-acting reversible contraceptives are being pushed as a means to reduce the birth rate of the poor. These initiatives will have a disproportionate impact on the childbearing of racial minorities.

Margaret Sanger’s dream of controlling the fertility of the poor is coming to fruition, thanks to the federal government.

Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood and a population control activist. She advocated that the “unfit”—the poor and the disabled—should have their fertility controlled. In her view, “hap-hazard, uncontrolled parentage leads directly and inevitably to poverty, overcrowding, delinquency, defectiveness, child labor, [and] infant mortality.” Sanger emphasized the financial burden that the marginalized classes impose on the broader society,asserting that “if they are not able to support and care for themselves, they should certainly not be allowed to bring offspring into this world for others to look after.” In other words, to wipe out poverty, society should wipe out the poor—by wiping out the ability of poor people to have children.

These same cost-saving arguments are being used by the federal government to justify targeting low-income women for contraception, especially long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).

LARCs are Margaret Sanger’s dream solution. LARCs, such as IUDs and implants, have a 99 percent effectiveness rate. In effect, they chemically sterilize young women for years. For IUDs, the sterilization lasts as much as five to ten years; for implants, it’s up to three years. Unlike other contraception, which a woman can discontinue using whenever she likes, if a woman wants to stop using a LARC, she must return to a healthcare professional to have it removed.

On both the state and federal level, the provision of LARCs to low-income women and teens is increasingly being pushed as a means to reduce the birthrate of the poor. In my last Public Discourse article, “Attention, Low-Income Women of Oregon: Your Reproduction is Now the Government’s Business,” I raised the alarm about a contraceptive metric being implemented by the state of Oregon. In today’s article, I address troubling but increasingly popular efforts to enact national contraceptive standards for all Medicaid providers, Title X-funded clinics, and federally funded home visiting programs.

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