A star NFL tight end turned heads this weekend when he claimed that Planned Parenthood was pulling a snow job on the nation. He claimed that Planned Parenthood claims to push greater access to abortion when it really wants to exterminate blacks and other minorities.
Benjamin Watson recently signed with the Baltimore Ravens after three years with the New Orleans Saints. He recently sat down for a three-part interview with the owners of Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center, a crisis pregnancy center in San Diego. He recently wrote “Under Our Skin,” a book that gives his take on the racial divide in this country. When asked about the role race plays in abortion in part two, Watson dropped a bombshell. He claimed that Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization that ultimately became Planned Parenthood, intended all along to use abortion to systematically wipe out the black race.
“I wouldn’t say I have any unique insight. I do know that blacks kind of represent a large portion of the abortions, and I do know that honestly the whole idea with Planned Parenthood and Sanger in the past was to exterminate blacks, and it’s kind of ironic that it’s working. We (as minorities) support candidates, and overwhelmingly support the idea of having Planned Parenthood and the like, and yet, that is why she created it. We are buying it hook, line, and sinker, like it’s a great thing.”
Watson went on to say that from where he’s sitting, abortion is something that is “really pushed on minorities,” especially black women. As he sees it, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about “advancing the black agenda” while at the same time “we are turning around and we are killing our children.” There’s just one problem with Watson’s argument–there’s no evidence to support it.
Since at least my college days, the religious right has mounted a full-court press to wedge black voters away from the Democrats. As part of that effort, they have tried to peddle the myth that Sanger wanted to use birth control as a smokescreen to exterminate the black race.
The pro-life movement seems to have seized on Sanger’s support of eugenics. As most of us know, eugenics fell out of favor after World War II due to the parallels between the Nazis’ eugenics programs and eugenics programs widely practiced in this country for much of the first half of the 20th century. While Sanger herself supported limiting the ability of the “unfit” to reproduce, she vehemently opposed the Nazis’ eugenics program and other state-sponsored eugenics programs. She believed that the final decision in such matters rightfully belonged to the individual.
Additionally, Jean Baker, a history professor at Goucher College and author of “Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion,” told Politifact New Hampshire that Sanger was “far ahead of her times” in opposing prejudice and racism. Even critics of Sanger concede that there is no evidence Sanger was a racist. For instance, in his book about the eugenics movement, “War Against the Weak,” Edwin Black bluntly stated, “Sanger was no racist. Nor was she anti-Semitic.”
The main weapon fundies use to paint Sanger as a racist appears to be this quote from a 1939 letter about the Negro Project, an effort to open birth control clinics in the South.
“We don’t want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs.”
For instance, Herman Cain cited this quote while on the campaign trail in 2011 as part of his argument that Planned Parenthood was part of a “planned genocide campaign.” However, Politifact Georgia pointed out that Sanger actually wanted black doctors ministers to help calm mothers’ fears that their attempts to limit their pregnancies would be found out. It turns out that during the Jim Crow era, there was great pressure on black families to avoid birth control.
They also like to cite a picture of Sanger supposedly addressing a Ku Klux Klan meeting. However, Snopes points out that image was photoshopped; an image of a lit cross was cut out and replaced with a picture of Sanger. While Sanger did address a New Jersey KKK women’s auxillary in 1926, she didn’t think too highly of the group; she described it in her 1938 autobiography as “one of the weirdest experiences” of her life, and “didn’t hold the group in the highest esteem.”
And as if that wasn’t enough to knock down claims that Sanger wanted to exterminate blacks, Martin Luther King said in 1966 that there was “a striking kinship” between his movement and Sanger’s. He noted that both were concerned about “the horrifying conditions of ghetto life.”
It’s no small wonder that this argument has been debunked several times over. For instance, when Cain claimed Planned Parenthood was founded on genocide, Politifact Georgia rated that claim “Pants on Fire.” When Ben Carson made a similar claim in 2015, Politifact New Hampshire rated it “False.”
You also have to consider the source. Crisis pregnancy centers exist solely to scare women out of getting an abortion. They do so by using information that is not only inaccurate, but dangerous–such as claims that condoms don’t protect against STDs and that STDs disappear over time. Peddling the claim that abortion is merely a mask for genocide is really no different.
If Watson had used the research skills he’d acquired at Duke and Georgia, he’d know he was spewing garbage. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Tell him what you think–politely, of course–on Facebook and on Twitter. And don’t forget to let Turning Point have it for playing with women’s minds in this way–buzz them on Facebook and on Twitter.