Planned Parenthood of Greater New York will remove the name of pioneering birth control advocate Margaret Sanger from its Manhattan health clinic because of her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement,” the group announced on Tuesday. Sanger, one of the founders of Planned Parenthood of America more than a century ago, has long provoked controversy because of her support for eugenics, a movement to promote selective breeding that often targeted people of color and the disabled. “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 Planned Parenthood of New York, said in a statement cited by the AP. “Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy."
Officials with the national organization said they supported the move. “Planned Parenthood, like many other organizations that have existed for a century or more, is reckoning with our history, and working to address historical inequities to better serve patients and our mission,” said Melanie Roussell Newman, a spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The clinic that had been named after Sanger will now be known as the Manhattan Health Center. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York said it is also urging New York City leaders to remove Sanger’s name from a street sign near the clinic. Sanger’s defenders say she was not racist, citing her relationships with Black leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois and her work to provide contraceptive services in Black communities—not for eugenics, but to give Black parents the ability to choose how many children to have.
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