Friday, April 8, 2011

What is the Legacy of Margaret Sanger?

With the topic of abortion being discussed on the airwaves so much lately, I thought it might be a good time to devote a blog entry or two to the issue.  When you hear people  making statements along the lines of "abortion on demand is a right of all women" or the particularly bewildering whine of "keep your laws off my body," * we're hearing echoes of Margaret Sanger's voice, but who was she?  
Much controversy surrounds Sanger, the founder of today’s Planned Parenthood.  Born into a large family in 1883, she devoted her life to a variety of causes, but birth control was consistently at the top of her list.  It is the relationship and motivation between her causes which appears to be one of the keys in understanding this figure.  For example, she was a strong proponent of eugenics and appears to have been racist in regards to those of African heritage.  She wrote derisively about the poor and those of African heritage in works such as the Pivot of Civilization.  H. G. Wells penned the following within the introduction to this chilling book. “We want fewer and better children who can be reared up to their full possibilities in unencumbered homes, and we cannot make the social life and the world-peace we are determined to make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens that you inflict upon us.”   
What is Sanger’s continuing legacy?  As Pope John Paul II characterized this general movement towards moral entropy in 1995, it has become a “culture of death”. The culture of death represents a formidable obstacle to be overcome if Christians are to be successful in curtailing the moral and demographic injury inflicted through abortion on demand.  The Christian should peacefully do what is within his power to make individuals aware of alternatives to and the finality of abortion—finality everywhere, that is, but within the grieving mother’s own heart and mind over the coming years.  The enduring legacy of Margaret Sanger is seen in the fact that (at last check) a quarter of all pregnancies in the United States today ends in abortion.  This means that our nation loses 1.31 million unborn persons with each passing year.  

The Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church in 1930 reversed itself and approved the first uses of contraception for its members.  Other Protestant denominations quickly jumped on this bandwagon.  Less than a quarter century later, the field of eugenics was reaching its height of popularity.  Catholic writers such as G.K. Chesterton warned that this was a dangerous road to travel down, but many began to believe that it was society’s right and duty to improve upon God’s creation.  A number of state laws were passed, for example, which required sterilization of those persons who were deemed inferior to the rest of society, “for the greater good”.  This desire to exercise increased direction and control upon procreation soon led to even more effective birth control methods such as the pill, which was introduced in the United States in 1965.  A year later, abortion, something abhorred by the Church since the First Century, began to be seen as yet another birth control alternative.
Believers are warned in Leviticus 18:21,"Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD."  As G.K. Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man, the devouring diety called Moloch might have never existed, but "his meal was not a myth."  The reader is reminded of God's love and intimate knowledge of the unborn child in passages such as Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:15-16.  Both the Christian and the Jew have the duty to present an opposite force for good and life in the world.  Because, as Saint Augustine wrote in Confessions, God “is life itself, immutable.” 
* As beings in possession of physical natures, this particular line of reasonsing would be amusing--except for the lack of critical thinking it betrays.  All laws concern our behavior, and all behavior is externalized through our physical form--e.g. thoughts lead to actions.  Does the speaker perhaps wish only our thoughts be subject to law?  

The above photo was taken at Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

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