Eugenics Quote of the Day: Birth Control is about Weeding out the Unfit; so says Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger, in Woman and the New Race.  Chapter 18, “The Goal.”  (1920) [Source]

Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives. So, in compliance with nature’s working plan, we must permit womanhood its full development before we can expect of it efficient motherhood. If we are to make racial progress, this development of womanhood must precede motherhood in every individual woman. Then and then only can the mother cease to be an incubator and be a mother indeed. Then only can she transmit to her sons and daughters the qualities which make strong individuals and, collectively, a strong race.


 The relentless efforts of reactionary authority to suppress the message of birth control and of voluntary motherhood are futile. The powers of reaction cannot now prevent the feminine spirit from breaking its bonds. When the last fetter falls the evils that have resulted from the suppression of woman’s will to freedom will pass. Child slavery, prostitution, feeblemindedness, physical deterioration, hunger, oppression and war will disappear from the earth.

Editorial comment:

There is a great deal of ignorance about the ideological roots of ‘birth control.’  There is a view that it can be taken independently from other ideas that have swirled around it over the decades, such as population control, eugenics, etc. One of the prime instigators of the birth control movement would have though such separations are ridiculously asinine, and cowardly to boot.  But what does she know!?!  She’s only the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger herself!

The logic is not hard to follow:  once you have fully separated sex from childbearing and made the act of bringing a child into the world as something under one’s full control, questions naturally, logically, and rationally arise:  shouldn’t only the best children be brought into the world? If there are too many people, doesn’t society have the right to decide who will bring children into the world, and in what quantity, etc?  All of the pioneers in birth control understood this.   Failure to understand it today, or to not acknowledge the relationship between birth control and these other issues, does not mean the implications are not the same as they always were.  Wishin’ don’t make it (not) so.

Sanger may have understood the implications of birth control on the individual, society, and public policy, but her belief that birth control would usher in a new age when there would be no prostitution, hunger, war, etc, gives us a strong clue that her basic problem was that she did not actually understand the true reality about Mankind.


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