The New York affiliate of the nation’s largest abortion provider said Tuesday it will remove the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, from its Manhattan building because of her support for eugenics.
“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” said Karen Seltzer, Board Chair at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) in a press release on the organization’s website.
The building will now be known as the “Manhattan Health Center.”
PPGNY is the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country.
“Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy,” said Seltzer, adding that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Sanger was a believer in eugenics.
Eugenics is the theory that quality of life for the human species can be improved by discouraging people from having children if they have genetic defects or traits deemed socially undesirable, even through coercion. The Catholic Church has repeatedly condemned eugenic policies and philosophies.
Seltzer said Tuesday stated that eugenics “runs completely counter to our values at PPGNY,” and that “removing (Sanger’s) name is an important step toward representing who we are as an organization and who we serve.”
In addition to removing Sanger’s name from the building, PPGNY is seeking to change a street sign that designates the area by the clinic as “Margaret Sanger Square.”
Planned Parenthood performed 345,672 abortions in the United States in 2018, according to the organization's annual report. The organization said it received $616 million in government grants and reimbursements that year.
In 2016, the Guttmacher Institute found that Black women had 28% of the nation’s abortions, while African-Americans constitute approximately 13% of the U.S. population.
In New York, Planned Parenthood has recently faced accusations of systemic racism made by employees. The CEO of PPGNY recently left the company following a series of complaints that she mistreated Black employees and had a “Trumpian” style of leadership.
Sanger had a history of speaking to racist and extremist organizations in support of birth control, including the Ku Klux Klan, which Planned Parenthood acknowledged in a fact sheet in 2016. The sheet attempted to offer counter arguments to Sanger’s beliefs, arguing in part that she was a product of her time and that her views were widespread and accepted.
The Planned Parenthood founder once said that “before eugenists and others who are laboring for racial betterment can succeed, they must first clear the way for birth control. Like the advocates of birth control, the eugenists, for instance, are seeking to assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.”