In response to employee and supporters’ discomfort around the organization’s association with eugenicist and family planning pioneer Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood has announced that it will remove Sanger’s name from its Manhattan health clinic.
During her lifetime, Sanger advocated for birth control as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy but also as a means of population control, advocating for “selective breeding,” which excluded poor people, immigrants, and people of color, among others. Sanger also spoke about birth control at Ku Klux Klan rallies and proposed sterilization for those with disabilities.
“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, chair of the New York affiliate board in a statement. The organization also says it is talking with city leaders about renaming “Margaret Sanger Square,” what the space near the clinic on Bleeker Street has been called for over twenty years.
In a recent report focused on the complaints of staffers at New York’s Planned Parenthood, Jezebel’s Esther Wang found that many people felt discomfort at the organization’s relationship with Sanger’s legacy. Attendees at a recent event for the organization complained about a speech given by the then-head of New York Planned Parenthood, Laura McQuade, praising Sanger. Additionally, the New York Times reports that “as recently as 2016, [Planned Parenthood] issued a fact sheet saying that while it condemned some of her beliefs, she had mostly been well intentioned in trying to make birth control accessible for poor and immigrant communities.”
In a statement, the national Planned Parenthood organization said it supports New York’s decision to remove Sanger’s name from its clinics.