Alexander Sanger to be biologically pro-life, one must be politically pro-choice
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Gay Marriage versus Reproductive Rights

Katha Pollitt recently penned ( see another one of her astute analyses of the failure of reproductive rights to gain traction with the American public. She points out that gay rights are on a juggernaut to legality and respectability. She sets forth a number of reasons, a few of which deserve elaboration.

Sexual freedom – the Puritanical culture demands punishment for women (not men). So true. But Pollitt doesn’t say why. We’ll get to that.

Men don’t see reproductive rights (being for women) as being that important. Polls show that men and women support (and oppose) abortion rights almost equally and always have since polling began after Roe. She doesn’t mention the so-called men’s rights movements, which see abortion rights as being antithetical to a man’s right to become a parent only with his consent. Nor does she mention the uncomfortable truth that women oppose abortion rights almost equally with men.

Pollitt points out that low-income women suffer with abortion restrictions. So true. She doesn’t mention that many low-income women also support restrictions on abortion rights. So what is going on? Are they demented? Under their husband’s thumb?

Pollitt goes on to mention that marriage equality takes nothing away from anyone, whereas abortion and contraception “give power to women and take it from others: parents, employers, clergy and men.”

Ah, finally.

Abortion and contraception are about reproduction and who controls it. It is, in the view of many, a zero sum game – either men control when a child is to be conceived and born, or a woman does, though ideally it is a decision made jointly. So why do some women oppose having that control? I mean, it is their body, their health, and their life.

In a Gallup Poll from 2012 (the most recent I could find with this breakdown) those with a household income of over $75,000 called themselves pro-choice versus pro-life by 58-36, whereas with those with a household income of less that $30,000 the ratio swung the other way, 41-46.

One reason might be that low-income women, and men, see family formation and a male income as vital to survival and see restrictions on their own, and other women’s, reproductive rights as contributing to this. Male reasons include increasing paternity certainty that their children are theirs (DNA testing may be too new to have changed evolved behavior) –hence the Puritan culture that punishes women for infidelity. Restrictions on contraception and abortion also decrease the ability of husbands to stray with impunity – this is in a wife’s interests. Since contraceptive sauce for the goose is contraceptive sauce for the gander, women will give up this right for a, in their view, more vital goal. Restricting the reproductive rights and liberty of the “other woman” helps keep husbands home.

Women and men have reproductive strategies, sometimes individually sometimes in partnership. Contraception and abortion are inextricably intertwined with these. It is all about reproduction. There is a battle of the sexes, like it or not. It’s just that not all women see reproductive freedom as being in their reproductive interests, just as not all men see reproductive freedom for women as being antithetical to theirs.

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The Sangers - Artists and Rebels
From NY Times, Friday May 22, 2015,

An untitled painting by William Sanger. CreditAlexander Sanger 
Margaret Sanger and her family members are best known as birth-control pioneers. Yet three of them were also artists. Now their watercolors are on display at the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s gallery in Portland, Me.
The work includes pieces by Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who took up painting after moving to Tucson in the late 1930s for her health, making mostly desert scenes. Her husband,William Sanger, was a painter and an architect, who began displaying his work in the 1910s; much of it featured stormy landscapes of Maine, where he was a frequent visitor.
Their grandson Alexander took up drawing and watercolors after his retirement as president and chief executive of New York City’s Planned Parenthood in 2000. He, too, paints on the Maine coast as well as in New York, where he is chairman of the International Planned Parenthood Council.
“I’m proud to be following in my grandparents’ footsteps in multiple ways,” Mr. Sanger said in a telephone interview. Particularly “haunting,” Mr. Sanger said, is his grandmother’s painting of a woman with three children walking away from an adobe church in the desert — which is something of a self-portrait, he said. Margaret Sanger had three children, and was indicted on charges of violating the Comstock law, which made it a crime to offer contraceptive information through the mail. “My grandmother’s holding a little girl’s arm and that’s my aunt, who died at age 5 of pneumonia,” he said. “The death was closely connected to circumstances — that my grandmother was in exile out of the country for a year. This is the one painting that she kept till the end of her life.”
The show, “The Sangers — Artists and Rebels,” which runs through May 29, coincides with the 50th anniversary of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Information: 207-232-4123. ROBIN POGREBIN
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Speech at PPNNE, Portland,Maine - April 29, 2015

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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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» When Sex Counts: Making Babies and Making Law, by Sherry Colb