Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood, the leading organization advocating abortion in the United States today. Darwinism had a profound influence on her thinking, including her conversion to, and active support of, eugenics. She was specifically concerned with reducing the population of the ‘less fit’, including ‘inferior races’ such as ‘Negroes’. One major result of her lifelong work was to support the sexual revolution that has radically changed our society.

Margaret Sanger (14 Sept. 1879–6 Sept. 1966) was the most prominent leader of the modern birth control and ‘free love’ movements.1 Sanger’s mother was a devout Irish Catholic; her father, Michael Higgins, was an unstable man unable to provide adequately for his large family. Although a skilled stonemason and tombstone carver, Mr Higgins was unable to properly care for his family because he alienated many of his customers with his radical politics.2 He drank heavily when he had the money while his 11 children ‘suffered bitterly from cold, privation, and hunger.’3 He was so anti-Christian that when Margaret was baptized at St. Mary’s Catholic church on March 23, 1893, the event ‘had to be kept secret, as her father would have been furious.’4

Sanger left her unhappy home as a teen, never to return—except briefly to study nursing at a co-educational boarding school called ‘Claverack College’.5 She was reportedly a poor student, skipped classes and neglected her part-time job. She dropped out of school and, after a brief stay at home to help care for her dying mother, moved in with her older sister and worked as a first grade teacher. She taught the children of immigrants but left after only two terms. This unhappy experience may have contributed to her later enthusiastic embrace of eugenics.

About this time she married William Sanger, an architect and painter, in 1902 and soon had three children. Her husband tried everything within his power to please his wife, but she turned out to be very difficult to satisfy. Margaret was also a distracted mother who did not like caring for children, including her own.6 She detested domestic life and grossly neglected her children to the point that neighbours had to step in to care for them.7 The letters her children wrote to their mother vividly reveal this neglect.

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