National Security & Defense

A Century of Slaughter

Planned Parenthood clinic in New York City, 2015 (Reuters photo: Lucas Jackson)
One hundred years after Planned Parenthood’s founding, has Margaret Sanger’s organization really helped American women?

One year ago this summer, Americans were jolted out of their complacency about abortion by a series of shocking videos, some depicting Planned Parenthood executives casually negotiating the price of fetal body parts procured in abortions, others featuring clinic workers describing the gruesome practices used to salvage valuable organs from aborted babies. Yet today, as the horror of these videos seems to have worn off, the doors to abortion clinics remain open across the country, and Planned Parenthood, on its 100th birthday, continues to receive over half a billion federal dollars each year.

Founded on October 16, 1916, by the radically progressive feminist Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood has been a chief force behind the cultural and legal developments that today allow our nation to turn a blind eye to the horror of abortion. Sanger’s legacy is a bloody one; since Roe v. Wade declared abortion a constitutional right, 59 million American children have died as a result of the procedure. Fifty-nine million lives snuffed out, simply for daring to exist, and while there are no reliable estimates for abortion rates for before 1973, this figure is certainly shy of the actual number of children aborted in the past 100 years.

Sanger’s initial focus was to provide women with birth control, which Planned Parenthood insinuated into mainstream culture and forced into jurisprudence by means of deficient legal arguments. Not only were these arguments lacking in credence, but they also stemmed from Sanger’s eugenic sympathies; Planned Parenthood’s mission to normalize contraception began with its founder’s desire to sterilize and thus eliminate “unfit” groups such as black Americans and the poor. As the Sexual Revolution gathered steam, Planned Parenthood began to employ the precedents used to legalize birth control in order to lay the groundwork for the legalization of abortion in Roe. The group was a chief architect of the narrative shaping this Supreme Court decision, perpetrating a wide-scale effort to falsify statistics on the number of illegal abortions and resulting maternal deaths prior to Roe. Many years after the ruling, some key individuals driving this falsification process and vouching for the fabricated statistics — such as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a longtime abortionist turned pro-life advocate — admitted that the numbers were grossly exaggerated in order to convince the Court that legalizing abortion would be safer than allowing it to continue illegally.

Fifty-nine million lives snuffed out, simply for daring to exist.

Undoubtedly, Sanger founded Planned Parenthood to establish contraception as an accepted method of family planning — and to do so in a way that would inevitably lead to a similar instantiation of abortion as an extension of the family-planning logic. Those who continue to operate and support Planned Parenthood might believe that they are assisting American women, but in fact they are making women’s situations worse. There is no question that modern women are more autonomous as the result of contraception and abortion. It is not true, however, that the benefits of Planned Parenthood’s agenda are worth incurring the harmful ramifications for the mothers involved.

For instance, a recent study of over one million women revealed that the pill greatly increases women’s risk of depression, exponentially so among teenage girls. A number of studies have shown that women on the pill have a higher risk for developing breast cancer; the World Health Organization has classified many hormonal contraceptives as class-one carcinogens. There are reports that Plan B One-Step — an emergency contraceptive that acts as an abortifacient — is marketed to women under false pretenses, and its use always causes negative systemic effects in women who take it. While it is possible to use some forms of contraception without encountering drastic physical side effects, it is notable that Planned Parenthood rarely acknowledges these and other potential risks. Perhaps the group’s silence is motivated by a desire to preserve its standing as a champion of women, even at the expense of women’s overall wellbeing.

If Planned Parenthood is really helping American women, why does the group engage in so much sugarcoating and equivocation?

Abortion, too, can severely harm the mothers involved. Though Planned Parenthood claims that abortion is medically safer than giving birth, research shows that abortion actually poses a higher risk of maternal death than does giving birth. During an investigation of medical emergencies and botched abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics, every clinic employee that was contacted refused to acknowledge that women had been harmed during abortion procedures, despite data to the contrary. Twenty-two unique studies, including data from nearly one million women who underwent abortions, showed that such women were 81 percent more likely to experience subsequent mental-health problems, including suicidal behavior and substance abuse.

In spite of these statistics, Planned Parenthood’s website claims that the group “empowers women . . . to make informed choices and lead healthy lives,” fights for “commonsense policies that promote women’s health,” and works “to create the healthiest generation ever.” But the above data do not paint such a rosy picture of women’s physical and emotional health when they avail themselves of their “reproductive rights.” If Planned Parenthood is really helping American women, why does the group engage in so much sugarcoating and equivocation?

Underneath Planned Parenthood’s flowery rhetoric about “women’s health” lurks a vicious campaign to establish completely unlimited abortion-on-demand, including partial-birth abortion, subsidized by the federal government and performed by all health-care workers regardless of conscientious objections. Planned Parenthood has drawn Democratic politicians away from the policy of keeping abortion “safe, legal, and rare” toward a policy more aptly described as “ubiquitous and government-funded.” The group’s ongoing campaign includes the wide-scale cultural normalization of abortion, as well as the disingenuous portrayal of the Hyde amendment and other conscience protections as an attack on minorities and low-income women. This logic is more evident than ever before in the Democratic party, as the Obama administration has forbidden states from defunding Planned Parenthood, Democratic politicians and activists continue to deny the evidence that the organization participated in illegal fetal-tissue trafficking, and the Democratic party platform formally opposes Hyde.

#related#Planned Parenthood has conducted a century-long effort to convince women that they will be better off if they can control their own fertility, but evidence shows that women’s lives are often not improved by this “reproductive autonomy.” And at the root of Planned Parenthood’s crusade is a pernicious lie: that a woman’s happiness can be brought about by the death of her child. In reality, the taking of innocent human life can never remedy societal ills or the troubles of any individual woman. Even if abortion makes life more “convenient,” no woman is truly served when her child is killed in an abortion. On this 100-year anniversary of Planned Parenthood’s founding, we should force Margaret Sanger’s organization to confront the cost of its true legacy: the loss of 59 million innocent lives. No autonomy is worth that price.

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