Alexander Sanger to be biologically pro-life, one must be politically pro-choice
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Recent Articles in the Press
Here are some recent stories:

"Advocate: Abortion does involve morality" by Paul Swiech in The Pantagraph
Pro-choice arguments have been ineffective for 25 years because they have been based largely on women's rights and rights to privacy, Alex Sanger said Monday. While those are important arguments, they have allowed the pro-life side to focus on moral issues, and American public opinion on abortion hasn't changed in 30 years, he said.

"Planned Parenthood founder: Republican Party is pro-choice" by Elaine Hopkins in The Journal Star
His grandmother's greatest achievement, he said, was to make birth control respectable and discussed by everyone.

"We failed to do that with abortion," he said.

The debate should be reframed, he said, and not in the way the Democratic Party has in mind. "We've got to be rid of the shame. We should be asking why we should have reproductive freedom."

The answer, he said, is to put reproductive freedom in a biological context, "about wanting children, healthy babies and grandchildren," so that all children are wanted.

"Women's Studies seminar covers controversial topic" by Jamie Smith in The Daily Vidette
"Reproductive rights, abortion rights have been, in my view, the most intensive issue in American cultural history with the possible exception of civil rights issues," Sanger said.

The issue of abortion has been long standing.

"It has been an issue for 200 years, it is not recent," Sanger said.
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Who Has Abortions
I was asked by a student at Oklahoma City Community College this week who has abortions. This is the latest information from the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It is available at

52% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 19%.

Black women are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2 1/2 times as likely.

43% of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% identify themselves as Catholic.

2/3 of all abortions are among never-married women.

Over 60% of abortions are among women who have had 1 or more children.

On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner

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Mister Roberts
The theatrical Mister Roberts was a wartime naval officer who cared about the men on his ship more than he cared about his career. He also cared about getting into the thick of the fight. These two goals provided the dramatic conflict in the play written by Joshua Logan that premiered on Broadway in 1948. Robert’s captain was the one obstacle that stood in the way, since there was no way Roberts could get transferred to a destroyer without the captain’s signature on the transfer form. The captain wasn’t about to oblige because Roberts was a superb officer, and because of this the captain was willing to overlook Robert’s nasty habit of standing up for the interests of the crew and confronting the captain at every opportunity. The crew eventually held a contest to forge the captain’s signature, which got Roberts his transfer to a destroyer and which got him killed. The play enjoyed a limited revival this year in Washington at the Kennedy Center. I wonder if Judge Roberts went to see it?

This is a man, by press reports anyway, who has spent his life grooming himself, and being groomed, for the Supreme Court. He is one Senate vote away from being in the thick of the fight for the rest of his life. All he needs is to get by the Senate. Will he use a forgery to get by? Or will we see the real Judge Roberts?

What is the life story of this man? We see him paraded as we would see a candidate for public office, white shirt, red tie, wife and two kids in tow (one of whom misbehaves just a bit for the cameras). The perfect picture, the photo-op dream. The anti-Souter in every respect.

Is there a man beneath the image? What are his inner conflicts? What has he sacrificed, or refused to sacrifice, to his ambition, his career? What, in short, makes him human? His brains and sense of humor don’t count.

Can our Senators ask him this?

What will the Senators ask? Judicial philosophy—as if that will elicit any meaningful answer. Roberts has been carefully coached here. His opinions on the Constitution, living or frozen in 1789. Again the carefully worded answers to offend no one. How about a “right to privacy” or a “so-called right to privacy”? Watch the evasions here—this may come before the court and I really can’t comment… Or precedent, stare decisis? A good thing, generally. We know what the answers are going to be already. Bland, formulaic, inoffensive.

So let’s get down to it. What in this man’s personal life has given him a sleepless night? Or made him think and ponder and toss and turn? What ethical crises has he faced? What mistakes did he make? What are his regrets? What actions or decisions did he make that some might think were mistakes or wrong or unethical, but that he doesn’t think so? Has he ever stood up for something or someone that cost him? These are questions that cross the boundary into the private. But they get to a larger point, and that is whether this man can empathize with his fellow citizens. People who bring lawsuits that get to the Supreme Court disagree about something fundamental. But the lawsuit involves practical consequences to real people. Tearing down the wall between church and state forces religion on real unbelieving people. Affirmative action affects the future of real workers, black and white. Criminalizing birth control and abortion affects the lives of real women.

Can this judge put himself in their shoes? Has he been in their shoes? Don’t we have a right to know?

But of course asking Judge Roberts about these things would violate his personal right to privacy? I wonder if he will extend to us the same right under the Constitution.

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Tribute to Avabai Wadia
Alexander Sanger with Avabai Wadia

Alexander Sanger, Avabai Wadia, and Prime Minister I. K. Gujral, shaking hands

Avabai Wadia, a distinguished leader of the IPPF, died July 11, 2005 at the age of 91. She didn’t seem that old. She had, like her friend and my grandmother, Margaret Sanger, a countenance made youthful by her lifetime of devotion to the great cause we all work for. Her zest for our cause was with her until the very end. In 1998, I traveled to Bombay (now Mumbai) to deliver a speech to the FPAI. Avabai was gracious enough to introduce me to the audience and to remark that I was a much better speaker than my grandmother was! I don’t know if I won over the audience, but her flattery won me over.

Avabai Wadia and Margaret Sanger

Avabai Wadia and Margaret Sanger

In 2002 I traveled to New Delhi to take part in the 50th anniversary celebration of the IPPF, and spent three days in her company. As is the IPPF’s wont, we spent three days in windowless, airless, sunless hotel meeting rooms discussing and debating important matters, with nary a break to enjoy the sun and pleasures of northern India. Our meetings took Avabai back to the days in 1952 when she helped organize the meeting in Bombay which founded the IPPF and to the Sixth International Conference on Planned Parenthood in New Delhi in 1959 which she almost single-handedly organized. When she caught me looking wistfully at the sun shining on the verdant lawns outside and reflecting off the cool rippling swimming pool, she nudged me and said, “There will be time enough for that.” She was all business, and her business was Planned Parenthood.

She trained as a lawyer in London and continued her practice even after she became the President of FPAI in the 1950’s and then of the IPPF in the 1970’s. She broke ground as a female attorney in Ceylon and India, and, though she rose to the highest levels in Indian society, she never forgot the women who were not as fortunate as she was. Fighting on their behalf, she, like my grandmother, had to overcome “ridicule, vilification, or, what is almost worse, public apathy.”

She once described my grandmother: “It is that unknown and unknowable quality in the human spirit which leads certain individuals through tribulation, physical, and even more mental, towards a distant light, having to make hard and self-sacrificing decisions, over and over again, having to contend with self-doubts and fears which crop up in any creative undertaking.”

Avabai Wadia and Margaret Sanger belonged to this small group of individuals who have had this struggle. Fortunately, they both kept their youthful enthusiasm for the cause until the end.

Avabai once said of my grandmother, what I now say about her, that “in her trail-blazing she had opened up a new understanding of life and family living, which, spreading world-wide, could lead to a truer valuation of human worth and peaceful progress.”

The IPPF and the world are in her debt.
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Recent story in the Rocky Mountain News
By Dahlia Weinstein, "Luncheon promotes teen responsibility"
The late Margaret Sanger gained worldwide attention as founder of the American birth-control movement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She developed family planning efforts throughout the international community.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has followed in Sanger's footsteps, helping women, men and teens make choices about reproduction for more than 85 years.

Individuals have followed in Sanger's footsteps, too, including her grandson, Alexander Sanger, who served as president of Planned Parenthood of New York City and its international arm, The Margaret Sanger Center International, from 1991 to 2000.
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Alexander Sanger
Alexander C. Sanger, 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 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.

Mr. Sanger speaks around the country and the world and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund.

Beyond Choice
Beyond Choice
The new book by Alexander Sanger published by PublicAffairs

Purchase from

Click here for full book information

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
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External Links
» Eugenics, Race, and Margaret sanger Revisited: Reproductive Freedom for All?
Hypatia, Indiana University Press
Recent 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
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External Links
» 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