The Associated Press reports today that Marie Stopes International, a United Kingdom–based global provider and promoter of abortion and contraception, has altered its official title to “MSI Reproductive Choices.” The decision is an effort to distance the organization from Stopes, who was an early promoter of contraception in the U.K. and a leading member of the eugenics movement in the early 20th century.
According to the group, the name change is meant to serve as “a clear signal that we neither adhere to nor condone” Stopes’s desire to use birth control as eugenic tool to enforce selective reproduction. Stopes also opposed interracial marriage and advocated sterilizing individuals deemed unfit to reproduce.
“Marie Stopes was a pioneer for family planning; however, she was also a supporter of the eugenics movement and expressed many opinions, which are in stark contrast to MSI’s core values and principles,” said MSI’s CEO Simon Cooke in a statement.
This announcement comes just a few months after Planned Parenthood of Greater New York removed the name of the group’s founder, Margaret Sanger, from its flagship abortion clinic in Manhattan, criticizing her support for using birth control and sterilization to reduce and eliminate populations she deemed “unfit,” such as the poor and mentally ill.
“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” Karen Seltzer, the chair of the New York affiliate’s board, said in a statement.
The national umbrella organization, Planned Parenthood Federation of America — by far the largest abortion provider in the United States — has yet to follow suit in disavowing its founder’s views.
According to MSI’s annual report for 2019, the group “provided more than 4.6 million safe abortion and post-abortion care services to women and girls” around the world. The group operates more than 600 centers in 37 countries around the world; the overwhelming majority are located in Africa, followed closely by Asia. Though the group might not explicitly mirror the eugenic priorities of its namesake, its activities around the globe very much reinforce her preferences.