You are unfit to have a child, so you will not be granted a permit to have one. You don’t earn enough money and you have a genetic disease; therefore, you don’t qualify for a permit to have a child. You are not the right type of person, and your spouse isn’t smart enough – so no permit for you. You don’t have the right skin color, so you won’t get a permit to have a child.
You’ve most likely heard of China’s one-child policy, but did you know Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, proposed something even more disturbing to the U.S. government? It’s called the American Baby Code, and it still affects our society today.
In fact, in 1934, Sanger laid out the exact code she proposed in an article that appeared in American Weekly magazine, which the Library of Congress preserved in all its chilling detail. You might be thinking that something proposed in the ’30s has no bearing on you today. But it very much does.
Eugenics and Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger was a strong proponent of negative eugenics, which is a social philosophy that claims human hereditary traits can be improved through social intervention. In other words, Sanger wanted to eliminate anyone in the gene pool – either through birth control, sterilization, or isolation – that she believed had “negative” traits. She also believed too many babies were being born and there needed to be stricter population control. So she proposed the American Baby Code.
She states in Article 8 of the American Baby Code,
“Feeble-minded persons, habitual congenital criminals, those afflicted with inheritable disease, and others found biologically unfit by authorities qualified [to] judge should be sterilized or, in cases of doubt, should be so isolated as to prevent the perpetuation of their afflictions by breeding.”
Some negative eugenicists proposed that the “genetically unfit” needed social intervention. In order to achieve the “perfect person,” selective breeding, sterilization, and even euthanasia would need to be used.
For example, consider Hitler. He wanted to achieve a pure race by eliminating the Jews. This goal incited one of the worst genocides in history: the Holocaust. By devaluing someone because of their race, genetics, disease, or limitations, we begin to play God. We assign worth based on everything except what is the most important – our humanity.
Sanger’s Birth Control Clinics = Planned Parenthood
Sanger tried to frame her birth control work as altruistic, often referencing the impoverished women whom she said wrote to her seeking advice on how to limit their family size due to feeling overwhelmed or unhealthy. While she expressed compassion for mothers suffering under the physical and financial weight of large families, the breadth of her writing reveals that this purported compassion was likely just a smokescreen to hide and humanize the truly insidious, eugenic population-control agenda she was trying to implement. The lengths she was willing to go to in order to achieve this goal, including forced sterilization, violated human dignity in the most profound ways possible.
Sanger’s eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods, full family-planning autonomy for the able-minded, and segregation or sterilization for the disabled. However, Sanger did denounce euthanasia as a eugenics tool.
She felt birth control clinics should be everywhere and easily accessible. The first clinic, appropriately called “American Birth Control,” was established in Brooklyn, New York. This was the beginning of Planned Parenthood. Remember, Sanger’s agenda was to control the number of births and the types of people being born. American Birth Control was her way of enforcing her American Baby Code and her negative eugenics.
Placement of the Clinics
Because Sanger’s objectives were deeply rooted in eugenics, she determined that birth control centers should be located in impoverished areas as a means of discouraging “breeding.” Today, Planned Parenthood has a definite strategic presence in inner-city areas comprised of minorities.
“We need thousands of [birth control] clinics,” she said. And in Article 2 of the American Baby Code, Sanger states, “Birth control clinics shall be permitted to function as services of city, county, or state health departments, or under the support of charity, or as a non-profit, self-sustaining agencies, subject to inspection and control by public authorities.”
Protecting Black Life (an outreach project of Life Issues Institute, Inc.) conducted a study that proved Planned Parenthood’s purposeful presence in minority neighborhoods. They backed up their claims using data from the 2010 Census:
“2010 Census results reveal that Planned Parenthood is targeting minority neighborhoods. 79% of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.”
Sanger’s Motives and Objectives
In addition to Sanger wanting to select who would be allowed to have children, she also wanted to limit the number of children couples could have, going so far as sterilizing those who were “biologically unfit” to have children. Her plan was to rid the world of “inferior” human groups. So she not only wanted to advocate for birth control, but also wanted to control the number of births. And she wanted to control who gave birth. By advocating for birth permits, which are similar to a marriage license, Sanger felt she could instigate population control of certain people and people groups.
In Article 1 of the American Baby Code, she wrote,
“The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies, to assist couples who wish to prevent overproduction of offspring and thus to reduce the burdens of charity and taxation for public relief, and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit” (emphasis mine).
Population Control Then and Now
While Sanger’s notion that couples should be empowered with knowledge about how to plan their families wasn’t at odds with the pro-life worldview, her true agenda was to control the population.
Today, the Office of Population Affairs still exists, operating under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was established in 1970 to administrate Title X, which was established “to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who want and need them.”
If you go to the OPA website today, almost everything listed is about controlling or reducing the size of the population, from information on contraceptive choices, to abortion and sterilization. And our tax dollars fund every bit of it.
Limit the Mentally and Physically Defective
Before Sanger wrote the American Baby Code, she wrote an article in 1921 titled “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” which states, “The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”
She later stated in Articles 7 and 8 of the American Baby Code that we need to:
“…stop reproduction by those who are recognised as biologically unfit, or who have inheritable diseases. … [Including] those improperly nourished, the tuberculous, those with weak or damaged hearts, the crippled, blind, and deaf, those with defective speech, and the mentally retarded, delinquent, and dependent.”
She goes on to say, “A large proportion of these were doomed before they were born.”
Why Is This Important Today ?
There are so many reasons why this view is wrong and still important to us today. First and foremost, we know that all life is valuable because God ordains life, breathes life, sustains life, and, therefore, should be the only one to take a life. Who are we to determine the worth of someone’s life? Who are we to say that someone’s value is based on what we deem to be important? Isn’t that subject to change and subjective as well? One person may value beauty while another values brains. We should never assign worth and value based on anything other than our God-given humanity.
Again, we are not the author of life – God is. Therefore, we should not be the ones to decide if life is valuable. When we abort a baby, when we pick and choose who should be allowed to procreate, we are taking on the role of God – determining that our desires and our plans are more important than the life of the child inside the womb. Essentially, we are playing God.
In addition, the nuclear family, not the government, should determine the number of children they have and the amount of space between them. When we assign this determination in any way to our government or ideologues, we promote a worldview that is actively working against our own. Because our worldview is fundamentally rooted in the belief that all humans are made in the image of God. If that is true, then population control can never be boiled down to a strictly economic consideration.
In summary, why would we expect Planned Parenthood to stand for anything other than what its founder stood for? Margaret Sanger spent her entire life trying to establish a ruling class to decide who could reproduce, how many children they could have, and who should be sterilized or segregated from society to prevent them from having children. She wanted to use birth control to prevent those she felt were unfit from reproducing. That is Planned Parenthood’s founder and foundation. That is their legacy. Planned Parenthood is built on a belief that we are not all created equal. It is built on a foundation that perpetuates segregation, sterilization, population control, and debasing human life.
Today, Planned Parenthood continues to carry out Sanger’s agenda – devaluing human life. They continue to push the message of abortion as healthcare. Isn’t it time we say no to this contorted way of thinking and restore value to all human life in our culture – especially the preborn? After all, who’s to say your defect won’t be the next one that someone deems unfit for life?
Margaret Sanger’s Baby Code Articles
- Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies, to assist couples who wish to prevent overproduction of offspring and thus to reduce the burdens of charity and taxation for public relief, and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
- Article 2. Birth control clinics shall be permitted to function as services of city, county, or state health departments, or under the support of charity, or as non-profit, self-sustaining agencies, subject to inspection and control by public authorities.
- Article 3. A marriage license shall in itself give husband and wife only the right to a common household and not the right to parenthood.
- Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit for parenthood.
- Article 5. Permits for parenthood shall be issued upon application by city, county, or state authorities to married couples, providing they are financially able to support the expected child, have the qualifications needed for proper rearing of the child, have no transmissible diseases, and, on the woman’s part no medical indication that maternity is likely to result in death or permanent injury to health.
- Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.
- Article 7. Every county shall be assisted administratively by the state in the effort to maintain a direct ratio between the county birth rate and its index of child welfare. Whenever the county records for any given year show an unfavorable variation from this ratio the county concerned shall be taxed by the state…. The revenues thus obtained shall be expended by the state within the given county either in giving financial support to birth control clinics or in other ways….
- Article 8. Feeble-minded persons, habitual congenital criminals, those afflicted with inheritable diseases, and others found biologically unfit by authorities qualified [to] judge should be sterilized or, in cases of doubt, should be so isolated as to prevent the perpetuation of their afflictions by breeding.
Sanger, Margaret. “America Needs a Code for Babies,” American Weekly, Mar. 27, 1934, Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress, 128:0312B, (https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=101807.xml).
- Margaret Sanger’s American Baby Code: https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=101807.xml
- Why Do We Still Have a Federal Office of Population Affairs? https://www.dlinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/DouglasLeadershipLetter.pdf
- The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda: https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=238946.xml
- The Office of Population Affairs: https://www.hhs.gov/opa/
- Protecting Black Life: https://www.protectingblacklife.org/