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Planned Parenthood in N.Y. Disavows Margaret Sanger Over Eugenics

It also condemned her support for policies to sterilize people who had disabilities that could not be treated; for banning immigrants with disabilities; and for “placing so-called illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, and dope fiends on farms and in open spaces as long as necessary for the strengthening and development of moral conduct.”

In a statement, the national organization said it supported the New York chapter’s decision to strike Ms. Sanger name from the clinic. There is no sign on the facility, but it had been identified both internally and publicly by Ms. Sanger’s name. It will now be known as the Manhattan Health Center.

“Planned Parenthood, like many other organizations that have existed for a century or more, is reckoning with our history, and working to address historical inequities to better serve patients and our mission,” Melanie Roussell Newman, a spokeswoman for the group, said in the statement.

Ms. Sanger still has defenders who say the decision to repudiate her lacks historical nuance.

Ellen Chesler, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank, and the author of a biography of Ms. Sanger and the birth control movement, said that while the country is undergoing vast social change and reconsidering prominent figures from the past, Ms. Sanger’s views have been misinterpreted.

The eugenics movement had wide support at the time in both conservative and liberal circles, Ms. Chesler said, and Ms. Sanger was squarely in the latter camp. She rejected some eugenicists’ belief that white middle-class families should have more children than others, Ms. Chesler said.

Instead, Ms. Sanger believed that the quality of all children’s lives could be improved if their parents had smaller families, Ms. Chesler said, adding that Ms. Sanger believed Black people and immigrants had a right to that better life.

“Her motives were the opposite of racism,” Ms. Chesler said, citing Ms. Sanger’s relationships with prominent Black leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois, a founder of the N.A.A.C.P.

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