Dr. Leana Wen, a highly distinguished physician, became the president of Planned Parenthood last fall. Her tenure as Planned Parenthood’s first Chinese American president did not last long, however. Planned Parenthood’s board threw Dr. Wen overboard just eight months later. Dr. Wen’s “sin” was that she was more interested in providing a wide range of health services and information to those who needed them rather than focus her work on stridently advocating abortion on demand. Planned Parenthood wanted a “more aggressive political leader,” according to the New York Times.
Dr. Wen supports women’s right to an abortion. However, she believes that Planned Parenthood could most effectively help women by considering abortion to be one of the health care services the organization provides, not its defining raison d’être. “I believe the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue, but a healthcare one, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who understand reproductive health care as the fundamental health care that it is,” she said. “I am leaving because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”
Dr. Wen’s health service priorities should have been no surprise to those at Planned Parenthood who hired her. Dr. Wen’s resume included stints on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and her public service as Baltimore’s health commissioner. Dr. Wen’s work to combat the opioid epidemic in Baltimore was recognized by former President Barack Obama, who invited her to speak at the White House, and by Democrat Congressman Elijah Cummings, whose district includes just over half of Baltimore. Evidently, the powers that be at Planned Parenthood wanted to leverage Dr. Wen’s prestige to push their extreme pro-abortion agenda. They got rid of her when she would not go along.
After saying good-bye to Dr. Wen, Planned Parenthood appointed a social justice activist, Alexis McGill Johnson, as its acting president. The organization’s leadership traded a renowned physician with a record of public service in the health field for a board member whose past accomplishments included serving as Political Director to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, Executive Director of Citizen Change founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs, and on the boards of the New York Civil Liberties Union and Center for Social Inclusion. Ms. Johnson was also the co-founder and co-director of the Perception Institute, which works on issues involving “race, gender, ethnic, and other identities.”
Planned Parenthood has tried in the past to brand itself as a provider of a range of health care services for women. Dr. Wen could have helped. But we can now see in Dr. Wen’s firing that the branding was all show and no substance. Planned Parenthood is unabashedly an abortion propagandist organization and abortion mill.
Ironically, Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, with all her bigotry as discussed below, questioned the practice of abortion as a matter of principle.
In Sanger’s autobiography, she recounted an exchange she had with a gynecologist in Germany, in which she “gently brought up the subject of abortion.” This was of interest to Sanger, given the fact that women were “campaigning for a bill before the Reichstag to permit operations to be performed lawfully in hospitals.” Sanger wrote that she asked the doctor, “Doesn’t this seem a ridiculous substitute for contraceptives?’ She said that the doctor, who favored abortion, was indignant. Sanger then quoted from a speech she gave in Berlin: “Birth control has always been practiced, beginning with infanticide, which is abhorred, and then by abortion, nearly as bad. Contraception, on the other hand, is harmless.” Later, she quoted herself as telling some people she encountered during a visit to Russia, who were inquiring about her views on abortion, “We don’t want that. Birth control is different.”
In an essay entitled, “Woman and the New Race,” Sanger wrote: “When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race. There will be no killing of babies in the womb by abortion…”
Planned Parenthood still treats Margaret Sanger as its heroine. Planned Parenthood states on its website that it “traces its roots back to nurse, educator and founder Margaret Sanger — whose activism changed the world. Sanger had the revolutionary idea that women should control their own bodies — and thus their own destinies. Imagine that!” Yes, but she did not favor Planned Parenthood’s leading service today – abortions on demand. Ripping a baby from a pregnant woman’s womb to perform a late term abortion and selling the body parts, as Planned Parenthood has reportedly done in some cases, is not what Sanger had in mind when she founded the organization.
Margaret Sanger favored other methods of birth control such as contraception, although some of her stated reasons reflected her bigotry.
Sanger believed in compulsory sterilization or segregation of the “whole dysgenic population” – the weak, disabled, and feeble-minded, for example – from mainstream U.S. society.
In an article entitled “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” Sanger wrote that “the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism.”
In an article published by the New York Times in 1924, Sanger, the president of what was then called the American Birth Control League, defined birth control in racial terms. She said that it means “the release and cultivation of the better racial elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination, and eventual extirpation of defective stocks – those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”
Sanger made other controversial statements, although her defenders claim they were being mischaracterized as to her intent. For example, in connection with the Negro Project, in which she was involved to promote birth control in black communities, Sanger sought to enlist participation by black ministers. But she wrote in a letter some words susceptible of a racist interpretation, “We do not want 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.” It’s not clear whether she was using the ministers to cover up the ultimate racist objective of the project or whether she wanted the ministers to allay any misunderstandings in the black communities the project was serving. Even putting the most benign spin on her words, Sanger was condescending.
Margaret Sanger is no role model to be sure, and it is not the intent of this article to sugar coat her prejudices and the horrific remedies she proposed to root out those she considered to be unfit “human weeds.” Planned Parenthood stands on the shoulders of this bigot. But Planned Parenthood’s leadership has done Sanger one better. They advocate for abortion on demand, which Sager opposed. The result is an abortion rate among non-Hispanic black women that was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its Abortion Surveillance report for 2015, released on November 23, 2018, to be significantly higher than that of non-Hispanic white women – 25.8 abortions per 1,000 compared to 6.6 abortions per 1,000, respectively. Non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic black women accounted for the largest percentages of all abortions (36.9% and 36.0%, respectively), according to the report, even though white Americans constituted more than five times the percentage of the U.S. population than black Americans.
Planned Parenthood wants more aggressive advocacy of abortion on demand, to the exclusion of the provision of other health care services and health information that Dr. Wen fought for and lost. It has placed many of its abortion facilities at or near black communities. Abortion is Planned Parenthood’s tool of choice to sharply control population growth, particularly in black communities. The left-wing Democrat presidential candidates are all in.