“We are owning our organization’s history and are committed to addressing the implicit bias and structural racism within our organization and communities,” Planned Parenthood North Central States declared on July 24, near the top of a statement denouncing racist and eugenicist ideas espoused by Margaret Sanger. Formed in 2018 when Planned Parenthood of the Heartland merged with a neighboring organization, the affiliate operates 29 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Many who believe in Planned Parenthood’s mission–especially the white women who have been the majority of the organization’s volunteers in Iowa–know little about Sanger other than that she established the country’s first birth control clinic. Although I’m a third-generation supporter of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, I was ignorant about Sanger’s eugenicist views for much of my adult life. Those views were repugnant, and it’s important for reproductive rights advocates to be clear about rejecting them.