Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced on Tuesday that it would remove the name of founder Margaret Sanger from its Manhattan clinic because of Sanger’s support for eugenics.
Sanger founded the first abortion clinic in the U.S. in 1916 in Brooklyn, and in 1921 established the American Birth Control League, which subsequently changed its name to Planned Parenthood. While Sanger is regarded as a pioneer by pro-choice advocates, she was also a supporter of eugenics, including the sterilization of disabled people who could not be treated.
The Margaret Sanger Clinic will be renamed the Manhattan Health Center.
“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, Board Chair at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said in a statement. “Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy. There is overwhelming evidence for Sanger’s deep belief in eugenic ideology, which runs completely counter to our values at PPGNY. Removing her name is an important step toward representing who we are as an organization and who we serve.”
Various institutions across the U.S. have chosen to rebrand following massive demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers. Princeton University has decided to rename its Woodrow Wilson Hall, citing the progressive president’s racism, while the Washington Redskins football team announced it would change its name following corporate pressure.
Planned Parenthood has defended Sanger from charges of racism in the past, releasing a fact sheet touting her ties to black leaders including W.E.B. DuBois. The fact sheet also condemns Sanger’s support for “placing so-called illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, and dope fiends on farms and in open spaces as long as necessary for the strengthening and development of moral conduct.”