Alexander Sanger to be biologically pro-life, one must be politically pro-choice
Home Bio Book The Sanger File Contact
Article on talk at the Carey Center

Alexander Sanger 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.
Sanger, who chairs the International Planned Parenthood Council, will present his perspective on the status of women's reproductive rights on Saturday at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville.
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." • 518-454-5417 • @hughesclaire
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.
Admission: $20

RSVP: 797-5100

» Link to this post
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
Cost: $20

» Link to this post
Women's Leadership in Theaters
» Link to this post
Republicans, Women and the 2013 Elections
This is the link to the Huffington Post version of the blog entry

» Link to this post

Did the Republicans Lose Women in the 2013 Elections

By Alexander Sanger
November 8, 2013

Virginia and New Jersey have spoken - the former electing a pro-choice governor and the latter an anti. Did Choice matter? Did Women matter?

The Choice Gap in Virginia

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:

                                    National 2012             Virginia 2013
Legal in all cases         29%                            27%
Legal in most cases     30%                            33%
Illegal in most cases    23%                            23%
Illegal in all cases        13%                            11%

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.

                                                Obama            Romney                      McAuliffe       Cuccinelli
Legal in most cases                 58%                40%                            59%                30%
Illegal in most cases                22%                76%                            17%                80%

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 illegal in most cases voter.

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 voters.

The Gender Gap in Virginia
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 national average.

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 Virginia

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.

New Jersey

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 ones choosing lead to increased womens 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.
» Link to this post

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

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
The Sanger List
Sign up to receive updates and news from Alexander Sanger
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
Blog Archives
» 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
» January 2014
» March 2014
» May 2014
» July 2014
» December 2014
» March 2015
» April 2015
» May 2015
» June 2015
» July 2015
» September 2015
» October 2015
» December 2015
» January 2016
» February 2016
» April 2016
» May 2016
» June 2016
» August 2016
» October 2016
» November 2016
» December 2016
» January 2017
» February 2017
» March 2017

 Subscribe in a reader
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