In a stunning admission, Planned Parenthood’s president Alexis McGill Johnson finally recognizes what pro-life organizations have been saying for years: Margaret Sanger was racist (though she stops just short of doing so). It says it will do better, but still fails to acknowledge that Sanger’s desire to eliminate “undesirables” still fuels how it targets certain minority communities, especially African Americans, for abortion.

The revelation came in a New York Times op-ed, where McGill Johnson said, “We need to talk about Margaret Sanger.” The rest of the piece both acknowledges some of Sanger’s racist and eugenics tendencies, by calling out her meeting with the Ku Klux Klan and her support for the Supreme Court Buck v. Bell case that legalized the forced sterilization of those considered “imbeciles,” but comes just short of fully condemning its founder.

However, to her credit, McGill Johnson does admit that her legacy is, obviously, deeply problematic

McGill Johnson wrote, “We don’t know what was in Sanger’s heart, and we don’t need to in order to condemn her harmful choices. What we have is a history of focusing on white womanhood relentlessly. Whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question. Our reckoning is understanding her full legacy, and its impact. Our reckoning is the work that comes next.”

Though it’s good to see the abortion business finally recognizing the reality of Sanger’s legacy and beliefs, when it comes to “her heart,” Sanger never minced words and was very clear about her stance on certain issues.

In her only broadcast television interview with Mike Wallace, when pressed about her beliefs on sin, Sanger famously said, “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin that people can commit.”

This is reflected in her own parenting style, or lack thereof.

In an interview with The New York Times, published in 1995, Sanger’s grandson Alexander shared, “With my father, it was awful. She sent him away to boarding school at 7. I have letters to her from him that said: ‘I went to the 8 o’clock train, like you said, but you were not on it. So I waited for the 9 o’clock and you weren’t on that one, either. Can I come home for Thanksgiving?’ They were the most pathetic letters. I don’t know how my father and uncle survived. As an adult he used to call her every Sunday, when the rates were cheaper. But he was never forthcoming about his childhood. I really learned about her through her obituaries.”

Per McGill Johnson, “We will no longer make excuses or apologize for Margaret Sanger’s actions. But we can’t simply call her racist, scrub her from our history, and move on. We must examine how we have perpetuated her harms over the last century — as an organization, an institution, and as individuals.”

The first place that Planned Parenthood should start isn’t by increasing their trans activism or by not being a “Karen,” a woman who “escalates small confrontations because of her own racial anxiety.” Instead, it needs to start with the item most critical to the organization’s identity, abortion.

Despite the seemingly self-reflected words McGill Johnson wrote in this article, Planned Parenthood will continue to place bigger and bigger abortion clinics in minority communities so it can prey on the most vulnerable.

“It is time for Planned Parenthood to take the next step, or their denunciation of Margaret Sanger rings hollow,” Benjamin Watson, Super Bowl champion and Vice President of Human Coalition, said in a statement acquired by The Daily Citizen. “Whether they personally identify with Sanger’s ideology or not, they continue to carry out her mission, by serving as the leading executioner of our children. The same Sanger they claim to disavow would applaud their efforts and results, as a disproportionate percentage of Black children have been killed in Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics. Acknowledging a racist history does not absolve them of the blood on their hands, as they continue to take full advantage of victims of the racism they decry.”

“I am glad that Alexis McGill Johnson is finally acknowledging what many Black leaders have said for decades – Margaret Sanger harbored racist and eugenicist views,” Rev. Dean Nelson, Executive Director of Human Coalition Action, said in the same email. “The problem with Margaret Sanger is more than just her ‘association’ with white supremacist groups and eugenics, it’s the implementation of those views in creating the largest abortion provider in America targeting people of color. You cannot acknowledge the racist person and history without admitting to the racist vision that has resulted in nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities being located within walking distance of minority neighborhoods.” 

Nelson continued, “There’s no redeeming Planned Parenthood’s tainted origins and current day racist practices. It’s a grave injustice that Planned Parenthood uses the taxpayer dollars of Black and brown people to continue Margaret Sanger’s legacy of racism and eugencism [sic] across our country.”

Until Planned Parenthood apologizes and acknowledges the blood on its hands under the direction of Sanger’s ideology, then nothing will really change.

Photo from the Library of Congress