Alexander Sanger to be biologically pro-life, one must be politically pro-choice
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The Decriminalization of Abortion Upheld by Mexico Supreme Court
On August 28, Mexico’s Supreme Court by an 8-3 vote upheld as constitutional the decriminalization of abortion.

The law, passed in 2007 by the Mexico City Legislative Assembly, decriminalized abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law also defined a pregnancy as beginning upon implantation and required public health centers in Mexico City to provide abortion information and free services, with an opt-out for doctors with a conscientious objection. With this law, Mexico City joined Puerto Rico, Cuba and Guyana in the Hemisphere as having decriminalized abortion in the first trimester.

The law was immediately challenged by the pro-criminalization forces in Mexican society, as violating the right to life as set forth in the Mexican Constitution. The decision, finding that it did not, was a constitutionally limited one, unlike the broader Roe v. Wade decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. The Roe decision found that in the U.S. Constitution there was a right to privacy that required that abortion be decriminalized before fetal viability. The Mexican Court held that the Mexican Constitution permitted, but did not require, the state legislatures of the nation to decriminalize, or criminalize, abortion. One judge said, “It is not up to the Supreme Court to legalize or criminalize abortion.” With this decision as precedent, other states in Mexico can decriminalize abortion should they choose to do so.

The Mexico City abortion law addresses a catastrophic public health problem: unsafe abortion. There are estimates that there are between 500,000 and 1 million unsafe abortions a year in Mexico, with approximately 100,000 annual abortion-related hospital admissions. From 1990 to 2005, 21,646 women in Mexico died of maternal related causes, with abortion accounting for 537. These figures are probably understated given the illegality of the procedure. Since the decriminalization, there has been one death from abortion in Mexico City.

Additional maternal deaths in the past were in no doubt caused by lack of access to family planning services, which would have delayed pregnancies until the woman was older, spaced out a woman’s pregnancies and reduced the absolute number of pregnancies, thereby reducing the risk of death in childbirth. It was heartening to see that 58% of women seeking abortions in Mexico City ask for an IUD after their abortion to prevent their next pregnancy. Abortion decriminalization must be part of a broad public health plan to bring reproductive health care services to young, poor, indigenous, rural and uninsured women, who otherwise do not have access. About 40% of pregnancies worldwide are unintended. It is these pregnancies that result in unsafe abortion and maternal mortality and morbidity. This can be prevented only by simultaneously attacking gender inequality, gender violence, lack of information and access to contraceptive services, lack of an appropriate contraceptive method for every woman at every stage of her reproductive life, and, finally, the stigma that women face in many cultures in trying to control their bodies and their lives. A big agenda, but Mexico has shown that we can tackle it.
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The U.S. Election of 2008 ― A Clear Choice

As far as global reproductive health, the foreign policies of John McCain and Barack Obama are as different as night and day. More particularly, the candidates have opposite positions on the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule (the “Rule”), which prohibits U.S. foreign aid for family planning programs going to any U.S. non-governmental organization that either performs abortions, counsels on abortions or advocates for legal abortion. Senator McCain supports the Rule and Senator Obama opposes it. The difference is that clear. Senator McCain has voted consistently to support the Global Gag Rule in votes in the Senate to overturn the Rule, while Senator Obama has consistently voted to overturn it. In the September and December 2007 votes to overturn the Rule, neither Senator was present to vote. However, in a prior vote in April 2006 to overturn the Rule, Obama voted in favor of overturn and McCain voted against. In five previous votes since 1991, McCain voted to uphold the Global Gag Rule. Senator Obama was not a member of the U.S. Senate for those votes. Senator Obama told me personally in January 2008 that he would sign an executive order overturning the Global Gag Rule.

In the fight to reauthorize PEPFAR in 2008, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, both Senators were co-sponsors. In 2003 Senator McCain voted to require one-third of AIDS funds be spent on abstinence-only programs. Obama was not a member of the Senate for this vote.

With respect to funding UNFPA, McCain voted at least five times against funding UNFPA, while Obama has voted in favor. Obama says specifically that he will work to fund UNFPA as President. McCain has been silent on this issue.

The differences between the candidates on U.S. domestic reproductive health care issues are as stark, with McCain voting and calling himself “pro-life” and Obama voting and calling himself “pro-choice”. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, rates McCain at 0% and Obama at 100% and has endorsed Obama for President. It is likely that, based upon past votes and statements made as candidates, as President that Senator McCain would continue the reproductive health policies of President Bush, while Senator Obama would pursue reproductive health policies more akin to those of President Clinton. The difference is clear.

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Remember Sanger
The attached letter appeared in the Concord Monitor. I don’t think my grandmother was being arrested at that point in her long career of lawbreaking, but who knows.
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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