The Difference One Racist Made: Margaret Sanger’s World

“On the other hand, the mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among whites, is from that part of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.

~From Sanger’s Birth Control Review

W.E.B. DuBois, Professor of Sociology, Atlanta University. “Black Folk and Birth Control.” Birth Control Review, Volume XXII, Number 8 (New Series, May 1938, the “Negro Number”), page 90.

Born into an impoverished family of eleven children (plus several miscarried), Margaret Sanger was left an orphan when her mother died at an early age. Though the cause of death was listed as tuberculosis, Margaret always attributed her early death to her mother’s weakness from bearing so many children. This deep-seated disdain for large families would encompass her life and contribute to a belief that women should limit—or be limited—in the number of children they have.

And she particularly desired to limit the fertility of black people and others she saw as inferior.

margaret sanger racist planned parenthood founder

Brief Biography of Margaret Sanger

Sanger was born in 1879 in New York to a Catholic mother and atheist father. She eventually went to nursing school, then married and had three children. Sanger and her husband became immersed in the bohemian world of Greenwich Village, where they lived. It was at this time that she joined the Women’s Committee of the New York Socialist’s Party and began to advocate for the sexual education of women. Though she never finished nursing school, Margaret began working as a nurse in a poor immigrant section of NYC, where she grew to believe in—and teach—the importance of birth control. She also began to write about these beliefs in a column entitled “What Every Girl Should Know.”

Then, in 1914, she started her own publication which advocated for women using birth control. Because she mailed out this publication, she was in violation of the Comstock Act, which made it illegal to disseminate immoral materials through the mail. Facing possible jail time for her actions, Margaret fled to England, where she continued to do research on birth control and contrive a plan to disseminate it.

In 1915, knowing that the charges in the US had been dropped against her, Margaret returned to the US and, a year later, opened the first birth control clinic in the states. A little over a week later, she was arrested and spent 30 days in jail for again being in violation of the Comstock Law. Sanger would later appeal the conviction, which would not be overturned. However, the judge in the case did make an exception to the law that would allow doctors to prescribe contraception for medical reasons. This opened the door for the future legalization of birth control.

To advocate for birth control, in 1917 Sanger began to publish The Birth Control Review, which she edited until 1929.

cover the birth control review

In 1921, Sanger established the American Birth Control League, which would eventually become Planned Parenthood.

planned parenthood clinic indiana

It didn’t take long for Sanger became a public voice at the forefront of a reproductive revolution. Not only a powerful driving force in the legalization of birth control, she advocated and spread eugenics in the spearheading of the birth control mentality—with the ultimate goal of eliminating unwanted people.

Sanger’s Racist Philosophy

“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.”

Letter from Margaret Sanger to Dr. C.J. Gamble, December 10th, 1939

After reading all 5,631 pages of the Birth Control Review, HLI’s Dr. Brian Clowes wrote:

Sanger associated with racists and anti-Semites, people who despised everyone who was not a Nordic god or goddess, and those who demanded coercive eugenics programs to eliminate ‘lesser’ humans. The whole bunch, of course, participated in continuous vicious attacks on the Catholic Church…. The malignant influence of Sanger and similar thinkers not only has ruined the West to the point that it is dying, but seems Hell-bent on corrupting the rest of the world as well.”

Clowes’ massive library compiled at HLI contains thousands of texts, including many of Sanger’s. And as he goes on to say, The Birth Control Review often emphasized the American Birth Control League,’s mission: “To promote eugenic birth selection throughout the United States so that there may be more well-born and fewer ill-born children―a stronger, healthier and more intelligent race.’”

We saw this eugenic philosophy in the extermination of six million Jews during WWII. And Sanger had people with known Nazi connections and sympathies writing for The Birth Control Review.

According to Clowes:

The Birth Control Review is larded with articles written by such “luminaries” as Lothrop Stoddard, American Birth Control League board member and author of the books The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy and The Menace of the Under Man, and Ernst Rudin, Adolf Hitler’s Director of Genetic Sterilization and founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene—the organization behind the master plan to exterminate Jews during World War II. Stoddard traveled to Germany to be welcomed by Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler himself. In fact, he was so popular in Germany, his writings were incorporated into Nazi school books.

black lives matter in the womb sign - san francisco walk for life 2019
San Francisco Walk for Life, 2019

We can thus say with certainty that Planned Parenthood honors a person (Margaret Sanger) who not only befriended authentic racists and Nazis, but gave them a widespread platform to spread their poison. In fact, PPFA names its most prestigious award after Margaret Sanger, allowing her eugenic legacy of hatred and intolerance to live on.

Today, Planned Parenthood does everything it can to eliminate the unfit of society and to profit off women in crisis pregnancies. It builds abortion facilities in impoverished and ethnic neighborhoods, targets blacks and Hispanics, and worms its way into our schools so that it can increase its client base by corrupting our children.

Yes, the legacy of this one woman is alive and well. The insidiousness has left an indelible mark.

Sanger’s Push for Eugenics

Eugenics is the “practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition.” Eugenics goes even deeper than racism, because it claims the right to determine who should live, who should reproduce, and who should die.

In her articles and speeches, Sanger gave evidence time and again that she considered there to be a close link between birth control and eugenics. As the author of articles entitled “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda” and “Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Margaret showed the world her true colors and the underlying reasons why she thought the world needed birth control.

In Birth Control and Women’s Health, Sanger writes:

In the early history of the race…. The weak died early or were killed. Today, however, civilization has brought sympathy, pity, tenderness and other lofty and worthy sentiments, which interfere with the law of natural selection. We are now in a state where our charities, our compensation acts, our pensions, hospitals and even our drainage and sanitary equipment all tend to keep alive the sickly and weak, who are allowed to propagate and in turn produce a race of degenerates.

Margaret Sanger. “Birth Control and Women’s Health.” Birth Control Review, Volume I, Number 12 [December 1917], page 7.

Does the term “a race of degenerates” remind you of a recent quote by Hillary Clinton, the 2009 recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award? A supporter of New York’s Reproductive Health Law allowing abortion till the day of birth, Clinton called Trump supporters a basket of deplorables. The remarks are nearly a century apart, and the contexts are different; yet a similarity in the raw hubris is undeniable. It’s not difficult to see the mentality that connects these two women.

Who’s “Unfit” to Reproduce?

In “Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Sanger writes: “We who advocate birth control, on the other hand, lay all our emphasis upon stopping not only the reproduction of the unfit but upon stopping all reproduction when there is not economic means of providing proper care for those who are born in health.”

In Sanger’s mind, those who are sick or weak should not be allowed to live. She asserts that these people could not possibly ever be happy. And she states that those babies who might be born into families not well off economically should not be allowed to live and that adults with a lack of financial means should not be allowed to have children.

Who is Margaret Sanger to say who might or might not be sick, weak, rich, poor, happy, or unhappy? Who is she to tell a couple that their child will be a burden? This is a violation of basic human rights.

birth control review advertisement july 1920
The Birth Control Review advertisement, July 1920

Sanger goes on to say:

While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and syphilitic, I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit. They are excellent means of meeting a certain phase of the situation, but I believe in regard to these, as in regard to other eugenic means, that they do not go to the bottom of the matter. Neither the mating of healthy couples nor the sterilization of certain recognized types of the unfit touches the great problem of unlimited reproduction of those whose housing, clothing, and food are all inadequate to physical and mental health. These measures do not touch those great masses, who through economic pressure populate the slums and there produce in their helplessness other helpless, diseased and incompetent masses, who overwhelm all that eugenics can do among those whose economic condition is better.

The Takeaways

We were created out of love by a Creator who knows only love for us and who wants what’s best for us. We all have different abilities, but we are made in His image, and as such every human life is sacred. Sanger does not look at the sanctity of a human life, but only at “utility.” But Sanger’s not-so-subtle messages sadly resonated with many then, and now. In “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” she writes: “The eugenic and civilizational value of birth control is becoming apparent to the enlightened and the intelligent.”

So, in her opinion, it is only the “enlightened and the intelligent” who can see the value of birth control. And those of us who understand that birth control harms women and that it can kill babies prior to their implantation are simply stupid.

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. Since 2003, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Fourteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students.


  1. Ruben Heredia on December 29, 2023 at 12:27 PM

    All of your problem is not realizing in this world there only exist 2 kinds of people. The first being the kindhearted who always do what is best for our world so that all can live a good life, and the second being the greedy selfish who’s actions are always for their own gain at the pain and suffering of others. Because you create friendships by race, religion, blood, country, and other labels you do not see your enemy is already among you. Until you learn to recognize all that are kind heart, the greedy selfish that stand among you will disrupt your efforts. The greedy selfish are the ones who create these environments that cause pain and suffering to mankind. Learn to recognize your friends before trying to point out your enemies.

  2. Nicole on March 4, 2023 at 8:53 AM

    You have distorted the real story, how do you give yourself the power to miseducate and spread such an absurd opinion? You are not going to change that women use contraceptives and make decisions about our bodies!! Thank you Sanger for making this breakthrough in women’s rights.

  3. EALuna on June 28, 2022 at 9:39 AM

    I’m trying to educate myself on the history of M. Sanger. One of my searches states that Smith College is one of two locations that houses the largest collection of texts from Sanger. That college was also attended by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Perhaps Hillary poured over all the volumes of information on reserve there during her time at Smith, and that shaped her sick mind too?

    • Guest on July 11, 2022 at 3:18 PM

      Clinton did not attend Smith, but Wellesley and Yale Law.

  4. Charles B on June 9, 2021 at 2:07 PM

    Cheers to Sanger. Her hard work and intelligence will be with us all for all time. Tho she hated blacks, her work has benefitted them as much as it has other races.

    • Joe on April 15, 2022 at 1:06 PM

      Ok man, did you even read the article? You must have a sick mentality if you can find all this out and after that, say “cheers”! What is your problem. Sanger was a racist Nazi. She hated the “Inferior” and preyed upon the weak. Your making me sick, Charles B!

  5. Kiern Eyo on April 13, 2021 at 3:03 PM

    How did you manage to miss out both of Sangers husbands being jewish?She hated blacks but she didn’t hate jews.Her second husband funded her anti-black activities.Also i didn’t see any mention of the Rockefellers or Bill Gates father.Poor article.

  6. Mickey Meador on February 22, 2021 at 2:09 AM

    The moment of conception is the beginning of life of a baby and the placement of the soul by God. Those who terminate that life are murders and by the zHoly Bible of God’s words those will be condemned.

    • Rachel on June 27, 2022 at 7:02 AM

      So leave the condemning to god, and peoples choices to themselves!

      • HLI Staff on June 28, 2022 at 4:02 PM

        Rachel, should we abolish laws that outlaw theft, rape and murder, too? Your car is stolen. The thief will eventually be judged by God for his unrepentant actions. An arsonist burns your house? No worries, it’s okay. God’s got it. No. Wrong is wrong. It is necessary for society to have laws that define right from wrong and promote justice.

      • linda paul beachy/ on July 4, 2022 at 1:08 AM

        except for one important point in the killing of innocent children. The choice the mother makes to abort that child has a myriad of consequences to those genrations that may have been the product of this human being . Not to mention those who this person was meant to make an impact on had they lived. How many cures for cancers even a cure for covid have we murdered . How many of God’s propheta or those who could have made a difference inour society have we killed. Murder is murder and life is one of the most prescious gifts God gives us. Who are we to jugde whop is worthy to live and who is not

  7. Gary Ferdman on December 25, 2020 at 6:33 PM

    Let’s not forget that Margaret Sanger helped save Jews who otherwise would have been murdered by the Nazis. By the way, so did the historical Alice Paul.

  8. jj on July 7, 2020 at 6:27 PM

    In her autobiography, Sanger proudly recounted her address to the women of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey, in 1926 A.D.

  9. Alice Paul on February 12, 2020 at 11:31 PM

    Didn’t Sanger also work with MLK in her later days? I think this article forgets some of the facts in place, Sanger’s views changed. The connections drawn between Sanger and Hitler are pretty far fetched and there is clearly strong bias in the connections drawn and the data used. Don’t ignore those facts which go against your initial idea. The fact that Margaret Sanger at one time advocated for eugenic programs is not really much of an argument against Planned Parenthood and the Pro-Choice movement, focus on the content of the current movement. What is dangerous for women are the botched abortions which take place in that police state where women can’t access legal, properly done birth control. What is dangerous for women are the consequences of life as a mother of 12. What is dangerous for women are the limits to freedom of expression required in a place where she cannot access a legal abortion.

    • B. Watts on June 24, 2020 at 3:17 PM

      Reply to “Alice Paul”: Sorry my friend, but your view of life has been distorted by thinking that is both anathema to God and destructive to society. The answer to not having unwanted babies is to not MAKE unwanted babies. The moral and correct answer has never been to destroy said babies, but that is EXACTLY what you advocate. Essentially you are putting a stamp of approval on the destruction of human life that you, or others, deem unwanted. Sad, and scary.

      • B. Cary on July 9, 2020 at 9:09 AM

        Well said B. Watts.

      • cass on July 17, 2020 at 2:31 AM

        B. Watts Don’t know much about history, do you? The name Alice Paul even escaped you. Sanger was all about birth control (which was illegal in u.s. as far as the mid 1960s) and against abortion until the day she died. Btw, the first quote was W.E.B.Dubois…know him? Black sociologist, civil rights activist etc. Try real history.

        • Patrick Riley on September 5, 2021 at 10:03 AM

          She may have been against abortion but the fact remains that her radical rhetoric fostered Planned Parenthood which is the great murder machine to the shame of this country

        • Rachel on June 27, 2022 at 7:04 AM

          Real History… well put, Thank you

    • Elissa Parish on August 9, 2020 at 7:54 PM

      I agree with the comments made by Alice Paul. There is more good that Planned Parenthood do for both single and married women than the article states. Maybe his is what is wrong with our present day society. We are more likely to point a finger at the bad stuff we assume people do than to look at the good things. If more emphasis is placed on the good perhaps there would be less bad.

      • Evelyn Swope on July 11, 2021 at 2:27 PM

        Organ harvesting from aborted babies. It’s ok to use their organ , SELL their organs , who is getting rich from this heinous practice. It’s being made into a money making endeavor. So sad.

        • CAWS on July 9, 2022 at 8:41 PM

          I’ll tell you who is getting rich from this: all of the SERIAL CONVICTED LYING FELONS MAKING YOUR VACCINES: Pfizer, Moderna, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, CSL,Glaxo/Smith Kline, Pharmacia etc . Covid shots were made with or from HKC 293 [Human kidney cells from 16 week old aborted fetuses while still alive]. 11 of the other childhood vaccine schedule shots have two other strains; one from male DNA and one from female. There is a new study showing that not only has autism exploded since human DNA used in vaccines [1986 ] but that it appears that the “immortal “cell lines can integrate with the recipient’s DNA . No wonder we have so much gender confusion. Males getting shots with XX chromosomes and females getting shots with XY . Not to mention all the phyto estrogenic chemicals in our food, water & plastics turning male reptiles &fish into females. Sperm counts in males are down by 40% . Miscarriages way up. Birth control & abortion will no longer be an issue . Reproduction of species will be the issue. It’s not just eugenics anymore it’s genocide.

    • C Zierer on November 9, 2020 at 11:38 AM

      Let’s be clear when Roe/wade was decided it was to be legal and rare, it has become 99% a means of convenience and it is anything but rare. It is also disproportionately killing black unborn babies, although Sanger’s views may have changed her legacy unfortunately lives on.

    • Daniel on October 4, 2021 at 2:14 AM

      You and your kind are murderous frauds, you have an unquenchable lust to murder innocent, beautiful babies of all races…
      Y’all went from early, safe and rare to anytime anywhere. You don’t care about black people or any people, all you care about is your warped feminist agenda which is so committed to proving there is no difference between men and women. Which, on it’s face is nonsense. You’re warped communist ideology has crushed so many souls that you have millions celebrating being able to murder innocent full grown babies during the trimester and even after birth.

    • MaryLou on June 26, 2022 at 8:14 PM

      In today’s society people are actually practicing eugenics. People get abortions up to Delivery. Can you imagine right b4 you give birth a large needle is inserted into the baby’s head and the brain is sucked out. Women abort babies bcuz they have down syndrome or some other ailment, they abort because it’s not the boy or girl they wanted, they abort because of their figure, for an affair, or as a form of birth control. All of these examples are in someway or the other the same as Margaret Sanders foundational purpose of PPP. That can’t be argued.

    • Rachel on June 27, 2022 at 6:58 AM

      Thank you for pointing out the very clearly made biases and data tweeking to fit this twisted natrative that even if were accurate, dose not apply to modern day planned parent hood health clinics or services….

    • linda paul beachy/ on July 4, 2022 at 12:48 AM

      I think the undercurrent of Margaret sangers philosophy permeates and still dominates the Planned parenthiood agenda. And have we forgotten the likes of Kermitt Gosnell , now in prison? Dr Gosnell was a back street abortionist from Philadelphia, Pa. who PLanned Parenthood referred those women patients too far along for them to perform a legal abortion on. The man performed 100’s of abortions on women beyond 6 months and up to nine months. In fact one of his helpers gave testimony about the unsterile conditions of his clinic and even said he made the remark about one abortion he performed, stating,”That baby was so big it could have delivered my mail” For years complaints were made of this butchers techniques and the fully developed babies he discarded, and for years authorities ignored the complaints because of the social and political climate Lest the alter of wonens choice. be offended. It wasn’t until one of his female patients succumbed to his procedures and the family outcry could not be ignored that the politicians finally couldnt ignore it. Knowing human nature and the grim reality that there is money to be made from these fetusus i would be willing to bet that there are thousands of Kermitt Gosnell in the back street alleys . Clinics willing to snuff out a babys life for the right price and all in poor neighborhoods. And with the approval and help of Planned Parenthood they will continue to exist unimpeded

  10. Elizabeth James Katung on November 9, 2019 at 7:22 PM

    This is awesome. So happy I learned something new. This article was helpful and is highly appreciated. Thanks a million.

  11. Cathy White on November 9, 2019 at 12:38 AM

    thank you for all the work you do for life.


  12. Jeanne Bergeron on November 8, 2019 at 5:22 PM


  13. Fred Trabulsi on November 7, 2019 at 8:09 PM

    Thank you Miss Ciancio for a insightful article. It is so sad that we have swallowed the Planned Parenthood agenda whole hog. If your article would dare be printed in the media it sure would open many eyes. Our Black brothers and sisters blindly follow the liberal line to their deaths. If only they knew the origins of Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger.
    Good job!

  14. Carol Stonelake on November 7, 2019 at 3:05 PM

    Susan, your article is excellent! Certainly gives a lot of information on Margret Sanger. I wish that more of the Black and Hispanic communities would see how Planned Parenthood have weaseled their way into their neighborhoods. I blame the ministers at their churches for not providing them with PP’s intent! Satan sure is busy in America!

  15. David P. Martinez on November 7, 2019 at 2:09 PM

    I have read a couple of Margaret Sanger’s books and everything in this article is indeed accurate. I am going to share this article with some fellow Catholic men who may not realize the evil that this woman perpetrated during her life and the consequences of that evil including Planned Parenthood!

  16. Dr. Robert N. Schwartz on November 7, 2019 at 2:02 PM

    Brilliant historical coverage. So few adults take heed of this contrived racism, etc., all of it directly contrary to the Will of God.

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