Alexis McGill Johnson, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood, recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times titled, “I’m the Head of Planned Parenthood. We’re Done Making Excuses for Our Founder. We must reckon with Margaret Sanger’s association with white supremacist groups and eugenics.”
Yet this title proves to be more than a little misleading, when several lines into the article Johnson states, “whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question.”
Well, Margaret Sanger spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally, she said, “We don’t want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro Population,” and she referred to birth control as, “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 maybe the answer is not simple to Johnson, but Sanger’s actions and words speak for themselves.
Johnson goes on to acknowledge that Sanger caused harm “to generations of people with disabilities and Black, Latino, Asian-American, and Indigenous people.” But sadly, she proves the first words of the op-ed, “we need to talk about Margaret Sanger” true when throughout the rest of the article, Johnson — who promised to reckon with Sanger’s actions — simply talks.
In all of her talking, Johnson promises not to ignore women of color, but not once does she mention that as the largest provider of abortions in America, Planned Parenthood targets people of color by locating 79 percent of their surgical abortion facilities within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.
Johnson commits to fighting dehumanization including the “dehumanization of transgender people,” but fails to confess that by becoming the second largest provider of cross-sex hormones in the country, Planned Parenthood is putting people who identify as transgender at risk of serious dangers including interference with brain development, inhibition of normal bone-density development, and sterilization.
Johnson concedes that Sanger caused harm to people with disabilities, but she fails to admit that in America, abortions — which in America are performed primarily by Planned Parenthood — target people with disabilities in the womb and that 67 percent of parents who receive a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome abort their child, 63 percent of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Spina Bifida abort their child, at least 65 percent of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of cystic fibrosis abort their child, and 83 percent of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of anencephaly abort their child.
Not surprisingly, among the many things Johnson fails to remember in her op-ed is that when Missouri tried to pass legislation banning abortion because of race, gender or prenatal diagnosis indicating Down syndrome, she responded on behalf of Planned Parenthood saying, “Let’s be very clear: these severe restrictions on abortion access do nothing to address disability rights or discrimination.” This statement identifies the root of why Planned Parenthood has not and will not “reckon with,” and depart from Margaret Sanger’s beliefs. Planned Parenthood believes that killing innocent babies in the womb because they are black, because they are a woman, or because they have Down Syndrome, is not a form of discrimination.
As Johnson said, “Margaret Sanger harmed generations with her beliefs. In our second century, Planned Parenthood has the chance to heal those harms.” Perhaps not dehumanizing and killing the most innocent among us, the unborn, would be a good place to start.
Director of the Center for Human Dignity
Mary Szoch serves as the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. In this position, Mary researches, writes, and coordinates collaborative efforts with other pro-life advocates on policies surrounding life and human dignity.
Prior to joining Family Research Council, Mary was the Director of the D.C. Catholic Conference and the Manager of Catholic Policy and Advocacy for the Archdiocese of Washington. In her role, Mary led the Archdiocese’s public policy work in D.C. including the fight against the legalization of prostitution, the complete deregulation of the abortion industry, and limitations on the freedoms of religious organizations. Mary also directed the Department of Life Issues for the Archdiocese where she collaborated with churches and pro-life organizations to educate and raise awareness on the life issues including abortion, assisted suicide, and discrimination against people with disabilities.
Mary received her master’s in education through the University of Notre Dame’s ACE program where she taught history and English to high school students at an under-resourced school. In 2015, while teaching at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill, Mary founded a non-profit, Teaching Together, that provides meaningful jobs in schools to adults with special needs.
Mary is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she majored in political science and philosophy. While at the University of Notre Dame, Mary played basketball for the Fighting Irish and lettered on the 2010-2011 National Championship Runner-Up team. A native of Altoona, Pennsylvania, Mary currently lives in D.C. with her husband, Ben.
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