Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood.

What were Margaret Sanger's goals for establishing Planned Parenthood?

Did she achieve those goals?

  • 3
    A good answer should reference and contextualize eugenics. Apr 18, 2013 at 11:50
  • 1
    @AffableGeek - and Malthusianism
    – user4012
    Apr 19, 2013 at 17:30
  • 2
    It should be noted that she did not have the goal of founding planned parenthood. The organization she founded eventually morphed into planned parenthood via a lot of external forces.
    – user1530
    Dec 29, 2016 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL) on November 10, 1921. As the NYU link explains "Sanger served as president from 1921 until her resignation on June 12, 1928 ... After her resignation, Sanger assumed full control of the CRB, renaming it the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau (BCCRB), and severed all legal ties with the ABCL. In 1939, the ABCL merged with the BCCRB to form the Birth Control Federation of America, which in 1942 changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America."

Immediately after founding the ABCL she discussed goals in the article Stop Perpetuating The Unfit by a National Policy on Limitation of Families. 28 December 1921 New York American :

Such is the object of the American Birth Control League (104 Fifth avenue, New York City), which aims to arouse interest among the American people to bring to birth a better quality in our race, as well as to establish clinics in all thickly populated districts where poor overburdened wretched mothers may be instructed in the methods of birth control.

We need one generation of birth control to weed out the misfits, to breed self-reliant, intelligent, responsible individuals.

Our immigration laws forbid the entrance into this country of paupers, insane, feeble-minded and diseased people from other lands. Why not extend the idea and discourage the bringing to birth these same types within our borders. Let us stop reproducing and perpetuation disease, insanity and ignorance.

Stop these and other evils at their source by a national policy and education of birth control.

For more information about her thinking and goals at the time of founding the ABCL, read her 1920 book Woman and the New Race:

Among our more than 100,000,000 population are Negroes, Indians, Chinese and other colored people to the number of 11,000,000. There are also 14,500,000 of foreign birth. Besides these there are 14,000,000 children of foreign-born parents and 6,500,000 persons whose fathers or mothers were born on foreign soil, making a total of 46,000,000 people of foreign stock. Fifty percent are of the native white strain...the slums of Europe dumped their submerged immigrants into America...The 1920 census will in all probability tell a story of an even greater and more serious problem than did the last... Do these elements give promise of a better race? Are we doing anything genuinely constructive to overcome this situation? [quoting from pages 31-33]

So her goal, for the United States, was to increase the representation of the "native white strain", which did not include first or second generation immigrants in her mind.

She wanted to achieve this without abortion and wrote "abortion is the destruction of life. Every high-minded respectable doctor shuns those looking for abortion".

Sanger wrote in Birth Control or Abortion? Birth Control Review December 1918:

I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.

So, because there are still hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year, despite birth control, her goals have not been achieved in this regard. And while blacks have been aborted at about 3 times the rate of whites, according to Statistically Abstracts of the United States 2012, table 101, Sanger has not been entirely successful in selectively breeding the "native white strain".


Margaret Sanger had two goals regarding planned parenthood and birth control. To make it 1) legal, and 2) safe for women.

The legal victories came first. Shortly after her arrest, a court in the state of New York ruled that DOCTORs could prescribe birth control. In the following decade, the 1920s, birth control became much more accepted and discussed in American society. This was partly because many American soldiers served in, then came back from Europe where attitudes toward sex were much freer ("How can you keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paree.") Court victories during the 1920s largely made it possible for women to get birth control.

The next step of forward progress took place around 1960, when the "pill" was introduced. This was a method that was both safe AND convenient. Prior to that, "barrier" methods such as condoms and diaphragms were safe but not convenient, while other "convenient" methods were not safe.

So Margaret Sanger (who died in 1966), lived just long enough to see the second part of her dream realized.

  • 2
    Any sources to site?
    – user1873
    May 21, 2013 at 3:12
  • Nice answer, but sources?
    – Publius
    May 21, 2013 at 4:14
  • The source is the OP's own link to Margaret Sanger. I just read it, and combined it with what I knew (mostly about the adoption of the pill in the 1960s, since I was born in the 1950s).
    – Tom Au
    May 21, 2013 at 14:04
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    @DvK: IMHO, her views were a "sideshow," and her REAL agenda was to make things easier for women
    – Tom Au
    May 22, 2013 at 19:23
  • 1
    @DVK: As I read the link, her views were pro eugenics and anti-abortion; two opposing ideas under one mind.
    – Tom Au
    May 26, 2013 at 18:49

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