September 22, 2023
Planned Parenthood disavowed its co-founder Margaret Sanger over her racist and eugenicist views last year, saying it will "no longer make excuses" for her, but it's unclear what steps the national organization has taken since to attempt to rectify Sanger's influence on the current abortion movement.

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More than one year ago, Planned Parenthood disavowed its co-founder Margaret Sanger over her racist and eugenicist views, saying it will “no longer make excuses or apologize” for her influence on society.

“But we can’t simply call her racist, scrub her from our history, and move on,” Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson wrote in a New York Times op-ed on April 17, 2021. “We must examine how we have perpetuated her harms over the last century — as an organization, an institution, and as individuals.”


But the organization is staying mum on what efforts it’s taken to “examine” exactly how it has “perpetuated her harms over the last century.” The organization doesn’t appear to have mentioned her name publicly since April 2021.

In this Aug. 21, 2019, file photo, a sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah in Salt Lake City.

In this Aug. 21, 2019, file photo, a sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Newsroom)

Sanger, who helped found the organization as a birth control clinic in 1916 Brooklyn, has been a thorn in the side of abortion advocates for years because of her support for the then-popular eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s, which promoted selective breeding that often targeted people of color and the disabled.

In 1921, Sanger wrote that “the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.” She also spoke to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in New Jersey and supported the Supreme Court’s 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to forcibly sterilize people deemed “unfit” by the government.

Pro-life activists also often point to Planned Parenthood’s prominence in low-income communities as Sanger’s enduring legacy in controlling population growth among people she may have viewed as “unfit.”

A report by the anti-abortion Life Issues Institute indicated in 2017 that a spate of new PPFA “mega-centers” targeted women of color. 

“Our research revealed that an alarming 88 percent (22 of 25) target women of color. Disturbingly, 80 percent target Black communities, 56 percent target Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods and 80 percent target one or more colleges. In total, 96 percent (24 of 25) of the mega-centers target women of color, college women, or both,” it claimed.

Some 39 percent of Planned Parenthood patients are people of color, with Latinos outnumbering people who identify as Black, according to Planned Parenthood. The organization hasn’t elaborated on how many of its 300,000-plus abortions every year are performed on Black mothers.

But according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2019, non-Hispanic Black women accounted for the largest percentage of abortions (38 percent) in the U.S. in 2016, while non-Hispanic white women accounted for 35 percent.


The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, which previously functioned as the research arm of Planned Parenthood, similarly reported that Black, non-Hispanic women saw the highest abortion rate (27.1 per 1,000 women aged 15-44) in 2014, compared to other racial groups.

Before McGill’s op-ed, Planned Parenthood had staunchly defended Sanger, claiming she was well-intentioned in her outreach to Black communities. 

A Planned Parenthood “Fact Sheet” dating back to 2004 claimed that “anti-family planning activists” were attacking Sanger “because she is an easier target than the unassailable reputation of PPFA and the contemporary family planning movement,” and that “attempts to discredit the family planning movement because its early 20th-century founder was not a perfect model of early 21st-century values is like disavowing the Declaration of Independence because its author, Thomas Jefferson, bought and sold slaves.”

In her op-ed condemning Sanger, McGill spoke about the organization facing a “reckoning” on understanding its founder’s “full legacy and its impact,” and that “our reckoning is the work that comes next.”

While the “Our History” section of Planned Parenthood’s website was updated to address Sanger’s eugenicist views, it’s unclear what “work” the national organization has done to attempt to rectify Sanger’s influence on the current abortion movement in the past year.

The last time Planned Parenthood or McGill mentioned Sanger’s name publicly appears to be in late April 2021.

Planned Parenthood’s website for its Greater New York chapter’s “Reviving Radical” program, which was designed to “reckon with Planned Parenthood’s legacy and contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color” and determine an “outreach plan to reach target communities,” also hasn’t been updated since early 2021. 


Fox News Digital reached out to Planned Parenthood twice, asking, “What steps has the national organization taken to ‘examine’ how it has ‘perpetuated’ Sanger’s ‘harms over the last century’ and what has it done to try to rectify that past in the current year?” We also asked for the organization’s most recent demographic information on the abortions it performs. 

Planned Parenthood did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.