Politics & Policy

Next Up: Abortion Needs to Be Canceled

Margaret Sanger in 1931 (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)
Margaret Sanger is only a start.

I’m no fan of this insidious cancel culture that currently seems to be suffocating our nation with a spirit of self-righteous unforgiving. At the same time, Planned Parenthood in New York is distancing itself from Margaret Sanger, the founder of America’s leading abortion provider. They are changing the name of the building on a Lower Manhattan street that they say they are petitioning the city to de-Sanger as well. This is overdue — and, frankly, unexpected. For as long as I can remember, the country largely ignored protests about the eugenics poison she played a significant role in inserting into our national bloodstream (and international bloodstream as well, given that Planned Parenthood’s gravely ideological reach goes beyond our borders, unfortunately).

But that’s not enough. And it’s not to join in the beheading of statues and demands that historic figures be judged by our standards to insist that there be more of a cultural examination of conscience about this one. For politicians on the left and on the right over the decades, Planned Parenthood, until somewhat recently, was conventionally considered as American as apple pie. But as Serrin Foster and Damian J. Geminder from Feminists for Life write for America magazine (no right-wing bastion):

While Sanger’s name may be removed from public spaces, her legacy of destruction and dehumanization remains. Millions of children of color and poor children who were priceless are gone forever: nameless, unloved and buried in medical waste. Scrubbing Sanger’s name from an abortion clinic does nothing to improve — much less save — the lives of children who are maimed and killed or the women who have been sold the lie that they and their unplanned pregnancies are a problem to be solved.

They continue:

Sanger did oppose abortion itself, but from its very inception, the mission of the American Birth Control League and later Planned Parenthood has been, in effect, to target, control and ultimately reduce vulnerable, ‘undesirable’ populations. Without Sanger, there would be no Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the United States today. No amount of virtue signaling from the abortion advocates who now run the organization allows them to escape this fact.

My friend Professor Charles Camosy, of Fordham University, officially quit the Democratic Party in the past year. It had long ago left him. He’s been recently sending around a petition to help the party confront its abortion extremism, to make room again for people who do not think that abortion is some kind of sacramental rite, an essential tenet not just of party membership but of respectful civil society. This virtue-signaling business leaves no room for debate over fundamentals that are becoming matters of tyrannical ascent.

In California, the Junípero Serra statues have all but disappeared — some by government decree, others by vandals, still others voluntarily — with the hope that they can come out again when the current hysteria has subsided. Serra, a Franciscan missionary, was a leaven in a brutal culture, with a selfless heart for others to whom he had no obligation other than what his Christian faith demanded of him. Would that all Christians lived like that (I say to myself as much as to anyone)! Would that we would learn from history: the good and the bad, without these frenzied surface-area denunciations!

In the case of Planned Parenthood and its political party (which extends beyond the Democrats, although the Democrats have resolutely pledged allegiance to their creed), making this Sanger reconsideration a healthy exercise would require taking a look at abortion itself and who it most affects, what it does to women and children and families. As a people, we cloak ourselves in all kinds of euphemisms when it comes to abortion — and other difficult issues. But how about talking to women about what abortion has done to them?

Recently, I watched a Sister of Life friend encounter a woman in a grocery store who asked about her life. (“What’s your get-up all about?” is what I imagined she was thinking about the veil and habit.) The Sisters of Life have a gift for accompanying women in difficult pregnancies, which became clear early. That woman made her position clear: “Well, if she wants to have the baby, that’s good.” The sister, a nurse, immediately explained that she has seen too many of these circumstances: The mother usually wants to have the baby but so often just doesn’t have the support she needs. She went on to talk about the Sisters’ post-abortion healing work — because their love for that woman doesn’t end if she goes through with an abortion. The exchange ended cordially. I don’t know if the woman’s mind was changed, but that sister modeled the kind of uncomfortable conversations we need to be having, rather than doubling down on death and ignorance. A lot of the cancel culture is ignorance — as we’ve seen with Serra. And as we see with Sanger, if we do not examine our conscience about abortion itself and the dehumanization it mandates, then death and harm to some of our most vulnerable will result from the Planned Parenthood ideology.

This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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