November 22, 2013
Article on talk at the Carey Center
fears he may soon be facing battles too similar to the ones his grandmother fought.
As with the law recently passed in Texas that restricts women's access to reproductive health services, Sanger foresees the kind of society that birth control activist Margaret Sanger confronted in the decades before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women have a legal right to abortion.
"There is going to be a growing underground of illegal and unsafe family planning and abortion services. This is my fear," Sanger said.
The abortion rights movement has been on hold for decades, going back to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, Sanger said. Recent polls show that more than half of Americans believe abortion should be legal under certain circumstances. About a quarter believe it should be legal without restriction, and a fifth believe it should never be legal.
"This is identical to 1975," Sanger said. "We have not moved the needle one iota after 40 years of pretty heated — sometimes violent — opposition to abortion rights and our arguments that Roe was a good decision."
One change that abortion rights advocates need to make, Sanger said, is to replace the decades-old rallying cry of "choice." While the movement has long promoted a woman's "right to choose" an abortion — and advocates are called "pro-choice" — the term has become loaded with unintended political meaning, Sanger said. In addition, the concept can lack necessary weight, as when it's used by, say, a mobile phone company trying to sell its wireless network.
"My problem with 'choice' is that it hasn't worked for the last 40 years." Sanger said.
He suggested a focus on women's autonomy and human reproduction instead.
Women who have had abortions must go public with their private stories, Sanger said. Gay people gained acceptance by coming out of the closet and telling their families, friends and colleagues about their sexuality. Acceptance of abortion will also increase, Sanger said, if more Americans understand that they likely know someone who has had the procedure.
Still, Sanger conceded, women's abortion stories are unique and complicated — not the sort of thing that's easy to wrap into a slogan.
"In each case the common denominator — in my reading and my conversations with women around the world — is they're not ready to be mothers at this particular time," Sanger said. "They want to be mothers, they want to care for the children they already have. And they want to time childbearing to give their children the best chance in the world."
Male partners need to stand by the courageous women who tell these stories, he said.
"Here I am a man telling women what they will be saying and not saying," he said. "I'm acutely sensitive to that."
His grandmother is his inspiration to keep pushing for reproductive rights, Sanger said. Margaret Sanger opened the country's first birth control clinic, in Brooklyn, and established the organizations that would become Planned Parenthood. Alexander Sanger recalled her visits from her home in Arizona to his childhood home in Westchester County.
"She was always on the move. She was no sooner arriving at our house than she'd be getting on the train to another meeting or another speech," he said. "She was a very powerful and extraordinary woman."
How to attend
What: Alexander Sanger will speak at the Carey Institute for Global Good
When: 7 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: The Carey Institute, 63 Huyck Road, Rensselaerville, on the campus previously occupied by Rensselaerville Institute.
November 18, 2013
Speech at the Carey Center this weekend
I am speaking this Saturday at the Carey Center for Global Good.
When: Sat, Nov 23, 2013 | 7:00 PM
Where: Carey Center for Global Good, 63 Huyck Road, Rensselaerville, New York
November 12, 2013
Women's Leadership in Theaters
Republicans, Women and the 2013 Elections
This is the link to the Huffington Post version of the blog entry
November 08, 2013
Did the Republicans
Lose Women in the 2013 Elections
Virginia and New Jersey have spoken - the former electing a
pro-choice governor and the latter an anti. Did Choice matter? Did Women
The Choice Gap in
Abortion was considered the third most important issue by
Virginia voters, with the economy and health care coverage outweighing it.
The Virginia electorate's views on abortion rights almost exactly
mirror the national opinion.
The 2012 national election and 2013 Virginia election exit poll
breakdown are as follows, when the voters were asked if abortion should be:
Legal in all cases
Legal in most cases
Illegal in most cases
Illegal in all cases
Voters nationally and in Virginia generally vote for the
candidate that supports their view, with the exception of the "Legal in
most cases" group, which tends to have a greater percentage voting for the
anti-choice candidate than the "Illegal in most cases" group has
voting for the pro-choice candidate.
Legal in most cases
Illegal in most cases
In other words there is a 20-percentage point difference in
voting patterns in these categories. The pro-choice candidates, Obama and
McAuliffe, got 58% and 59% respectively of the ‘
legal in most cases’
voter, while Romney and Cuccinelli got 76% and 80% of the ‘
in most cases’
This pattern is similar to the abortion gap in 2012. Romney got
29% of the vote of people who thought abortion should be legal, whereas Obama
got only 21% of the vote of people who thought abortion should be illegal.
This is a pattern that has been seen repeatedly in national and
state elections. The mostly pro-choice voter votes other issues more than choice,
whereas the mostly anti-choice voter does not. That said, the raw numbers still
favor by a slight margin the pro-choice candidate, since the pool of
voters in the ‘
legal in most cases’
camp is larger by 7-10 percentage
points than the ‘
illegal in most cases’
The Gender Gap in
There was the usual gender gap in Virginia, with men supporting
Cuccinelli 48 to 45 and women supporting McAuliffe 51 to 42 for a 12-point gap,
virtually identical to the 2012 Virginia gender gap for Obama of 13 points. The
national gap gender for Obama in 2012 was 18 points, hence Virginia trails the
54% of white women voted for Cuccinelli, as did 51% of married women.
Women are not monolithic, to say the least, in their support of pro-choice
candidates or Democrats.
The Marriage Gap in
A greater voting gap was the married-unmarried gap,
In 2012, marrieds went for Romney 56-42. Unmarrieds went for
Obama 62-35, for a 41-point marriage gap.
In Virginia in 2013, marrieds went for Cuccinelli 50-43 and
Unmarrieds for McAuliffe 62-29, for a 40-point marriage gap, virtually
identical to the national marriage gap.
In New Jersey, every group went for the popular anti-choice,
anti-family planning incumbent, with 63% of men and 57% of women voting for
Christie. Abortion rights was not a major issue in the campaign, not
registering on the exit polls.
The messages from these campaigns include the non-monolithic
character of women voters and choice voters. Issues other than choice, and even
family planning, are not the primary determinants of many women voters. The
gender gap is real, but the marriage, income and race gaps are greater. Politicians
have yet to make the compelling case that reproductive freedom is essential for
women, and men, and that they should vote accordingly. The connections to
issues perceived as of greater importance, like the economy, taxes and health
care coverage, need to be made. Healthy families with planned and spaced
children of one’
s choosing lead to increased women’
s participation in
the economy, more productivity, and less health care expenditures and taxes.
This is a message equally compelling to marrieds as unmarrieds, but so far only
the latter group have gotten the message and vote accordingly, as they want to
keep their life options open.
July 29, 2013
The latest ploy from those who want to criminalize abortion came this week in North Dakota (yes, that state
-- the one that recently passed a law banning abortions after six weeks). Perhaps frustrated by a federal judge summarily striking down the law as blatantly unconstitutional, the anti-choice folks at Heritage House distributed rubber fetus dolls
-- or "Precious Ones" -- in candy packs that were handed out to children at the North Dakota State Fair. This North Dakota Happy Meal prize was intended to convince children of the sanctity of life and to dissuade them (at age five) from terminating any pregnancies down the road.
The only good news is that this effort is a titanic waste of money.
We on the pregnancy prevention side of things tried a decade ago to discourage teen pregnancy by distributing lifelike dolls to teens that needed 24-hour care and feeding. The dolls in the program, called "Baby Think It Over," were seven-pound, lifelike infants made of plastic. The teens were required to care for the infants for three days and two nights. The dolls would cry and wail intermittently, could not be left unattended, and were designed to disrupt the teens' social life, not to mention their sleep. Evaluations of the program were mixed, but one evaluation
found that the dolls actually encouraged teen pregnancy by making actual childcare appear not so difficult by comparison!
Scenes at the Dakota State Fair showed the children, as children are wont to do, variously playing with, throwing, squeezing and otherwise abusing the fetus dolls. Perhaps they are getting the idea that the fetus isn't so valuable after all -- hardly the result that Heritage House intended.
What will a five-year-old Dakota girl remember at age 14 when she finds herself with an unintended pregnancy, which, given the paucity of sex ed programs in North Dakota schools, is increasingly likely? Maybe she'll remember that the so-called "pro-lifers" were treating her like a wind-up doll and not a human being who has to confront and cope with real life issues when she still may be playing with dolls.
June 21, 2013
All MY XXXs LIve in Texas
All My XXXs Live in Texas
What is it with the Great Southwest and masturbation?
A few years ago, 58-year-old Oklahoma Judge and father of three Donald Thompson
was arrested for -- and convicted of -- masturbating on the bench. The whooshing sound of His dis-Honor's penis pump finally gave him away during a murder trial, and Thompson was convicted on multiple counts of indecent exposure and sentenced to four years in prison.
One wonders if the unfortunate perps convicted by his Honor the Perv are eligible for new trials -- ones before a judge who keeps both hands visible on the bench.
Just this week, as the House of Representatives considered a bill
that effectively bans most abortions after 20 weeks, Texas Congressman and former ob-gyn Michael Burgess declared on the floor of the House that male fetuses masturbate, and that since they feel pleasure, they feel pain, and, hence, abortion should not be allowed.
: "Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?"
Uuummmm. Putting aside the un-logical leaps in reasoning and also putting aside serious questions about the curriculum of the University of Texas Medical School, one has to ask, what about female fetuses? Don't they masturbate? (To be fair, Burgess never used the M word). Since that behavior is so un-lady-like as to be unconceivable, are female fetuses exempt from this abortion ban?
Or, what about fetuses less than 15 weeks old of either sex? Since they don't M-word, it is permissible under Texas rules of sexual deportment to abort them?
And what if the 15-week old fetus that is carried to term? If they are touching themselves between their legs in a sonogram in full view of sonogram techs, nurses and physicians, are they guilty of indecent exposure for showing their pokey like Judge Thompson and thus liable for four years in the pokey?
As Will Rogers said, "... the thing about my jokes is that they don't hurt anybody... But with Congress -- every time they make a joke it's a law. And every time they make a law it's a joke."
And so it is with our Congress and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, except that I'm not laughing. Hopefully the voters of Texas will laugh Congressman Burgess and his colleagues out of office.
June 05, 2013
Shakespeare or Stein? An Abortion in El Salvador for Beatriz
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2, by William Shakespeare.
"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." Sacred Emily, by Gertrude Stein.
Beatriz got her abortion, and her life was saved. The fetus-child-baby (you choose) that she was carrying was dead before the procedure was carried out. What is the name for a dead fetus still in utero? And what is the name for removing this dead fetus from the mother before it kills her? What is in a name?
A 22 year-old El Salvadorian woman, Beatriz, was pregnant with her second child and discovered that the child had anencephaly - a condition where the child had no brain and only a partial skull. Beatriz herself had lupus and hypertension, and continuing the pregnancy would risk her life.
The child had no brain. No brain function. The unborn child was dead. Cerebral death is death. A heart may continue beating for a time after the brain ceases functioning but the patient is dead when the brain stops functioning. The child was not 'alive'. There was no 'life' to terminate with an abortion. Nature had already done that.
Beatriz's doctors were in a quandary, given El Salvador law.
El Salvador's original name is Provincia de Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, el Salvador del Mundo ("Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"), which tells you that this country is seriously Catholic in origin. Abortion is forbidden in El Salvador for any reason, even to save the life of the mother. Life from the moment of conception is protected in the Constitution.
So Beatriz and the hospital went to the Supreme Court of El Salvador, which ruled, predictably, that an abortion was not permitted, because they had to protect the 'life' of the fetus, which sadly had none anymore, and because Beatriz's health problems were under control. The court did add that her doctors could proceed with interventions if Beatriz's health deteriorated to the point where danger was imminent.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights immediately ordered the government of El Salvador to act swiftly to protect Beatriz's "life, personal integrity and health".
Into the breach stepped the Health Minister of El Salvador, who ruled that the pregnancy could be interrupted by delivering the baby by caesarian section in order to protect Beatriz's life. Beatriz was at that time 27 weeks pregnant, and the C-section was immediately performed.
Was it an 'abortion'?
What is in a name? In South Africa, abortion is called 'termination of pregnancy'. What do we call what Beatriz had? 'Interruption of pregnancy', 'termination of pregnancy', 'C-section'?
Whatever Beatriz had, the road to getting it was a cruel one, akin to torture. Is this what a woman has to go through - the Supreme Court, the Inter-American Court and the Health Ministry - to save her life and control her childbearing?
Which is just what the powers-that-be in El Salvador do not want - women controlling their childbearing. This case does not change that. The law remains. The Constitution remains. They bent and called an abortion a C-section, but abortion and women controlling reproduction are still prohibited in El Salvador.
So what will woman in El Salvador do? Try to kill their fetuses with herbs or toxins, knitting needles and the like and then show up at the hospital and ask for a C-section, if they are still alive to ask. That is what women will do, and have always done, when they are pregnant with a child they do not want or cannot have.
There is a name for wanting to take care of these women and to give them the future they deserve. It's called humanitarianism. Someday El Salvador will smell the roses and decriminalize abortion.
Alexander C. Sanger
Mr. Sanger previously served as the President of Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and its international arm, The Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) for ten years from 1991 - 2000.
, the grandson of Margaret Sanger, who founded the birth control movement over eighty years ago, is currently Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.
Mr. Sanger speaks around the country and the world and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund.
With reproductive freedom in jeopardy, Alexander Sanger, grandson of renowned family planning advocate Margaret Sanger and a longtime leader in the reproductive rights movement, has taken an urgent, fresh look at the pro-choice position—and even the pro-life position—and finds them necessary, but insufficient. In Beyond Choice he offers the first major re-thinking of these positions in thirty years.
“Well researched and readable, Beyond Choice should be required reading for both pro-choice and pro-life supporters.”
—Governor Christine Todd Whitman
» Much more on Beyond Choice, including an excerpt, discussion guides, reviews
Sign up to receive updates and news from Alexander Sanger
» Eugenics, Race, and Margaret sanger
Revisited: Reproductive Freedom for All?
Hypatia, Indiana University Press
» Abortion in the Spotlight [PDF]
Tina Morlock, Oklahoma City Pioneer
» Advocate: Abortion does involve morality
Paul Swiech, The Pantagraph
» Planned Parenthood founder: Republican Party is pro-choice
Elaine Hopkins, The Journal Star
» Women's Studies seminar covers controversial topic
Jamie Smith, The Daily Vidette
» Luncheon promotes teen responsibility
Dahlia Weinstein, Rocky Mountain News
» January 2004
» February 2004
» March 2004
» April 2004
» May 2004
» July 2004
» September 2004
» October 2004
» November 2004
» December 2004
» February 2005
» March 2005
» April 2005
» June 2005
» July 2005
» September 2005
» October 2005
» November 2005
» December 2005
» January 2006
» February 2006
» March 2006
» April 2006
» June 2006
» November 2006
» February 2007
» July 2007
» September 2007
» November 2007
» January 2008
» February 2008
» March 2008
» May 2008
» September 2008
» October 2008
» December 2008
» June 2009
» July 2009
» September 2009
» October 2009
» November 2009
» January 2010
» February 2010
» April 2010
» May 2010
» October 2010
» November 2010
» December 2010
» January 2011
» February 2011
» May 2011
» July 2011
» October 2011
» November 2011
» December 2011
» February 2012
» April 2012
» June 2012
» September 2012
» October 2012
» January 2013
» February 2013
» April 2013
» May 2013
» June 2013
» July 2013
» November 2013
Subscribe in a reader
» International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region
» UN Goodwill Ambassadors
» The Margaret Sanger Papers Project, NYU History Dept.
» When Sex Counts: Making Babies and
Making Law, by Sherry Colb