Alexander Sanger to be biologically pro-life, one must be politically pro-choice
Home Bio Book The Sanger File Contact
Why Trump's Global Gag Rule international abortion restrictions are so dangerous
The Global Gag Rule is like a cartoon character, no sooner squashed by a falling boulder than it emerges from under the rock that fell on it and goes on its un-merry way, leaving destruction in its path. It was instituted by Ronald Reagan in 1984, overturned by Bill Clinton, reinstated by George W. Bush, overturned by Barack Obama and now has been reinstated by Donald Trump.
Previous versions of the Global Gag Rule, or Mexico City Policy, prohibited U.S. providers of foreign contraceptive aid from using their own funding to providing abortion counseling, services or referrals — even in countries where abortion is legal. Organizations were also prohibited from advocating to decriminalize abortion. Trump’s new “super gag rule” takes the unprecedented step of extending the rule to “all global health assistance,” jeopardizing as much as $9 billion in federal aid for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, Zika, children’s health and other life-saving programs.
But here’s the most insidious part of the rule: Organizations were already prohibited from using U.S. funding for abortion-related services and advocacy, thanks to the 1973 Helms Amendment. The Gag Rule takes the harmful and unnecessary step of dictating what organizations can or can’t spend the rest of their budgets on.
The Global Gag Rule restricts medical professionals in economically developing countries from giving impartial medical advice to their patients, denying them information about avoiding risks and prohibiting informed decisionmaking by women about childbearing. On Monday, the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region, which oversees sexual and reproductive health programs in the Americas and Caribbean, affirmed that it will not sign the Gag Rule, stating that “Putting a ‘gag order’ on local providers who know the specific laws and needs of their communities is arrogant and flies in the face of common sense and reason.”
The fact is: The Global Gag Rule has been shown to increase abortions worldwide. When the U.S. cuts off the supply of contraceptives, many people in the developing world are forced to go without them. Abortion rates in Sub-Saharan Africa more than doubled after George W. Bush reinstated the Gag Rule.
The Guttmacher Institute found that in 2016, U.S. funding for contraceptives prevented more than 2 million unsafe abortions and 6 million unintended pregnancies, and helped prevent 11,000 maternal deaths worldwide. The Trump-Pence Administration simply ignores the obvious truth that contraception reduces abortions; bans don’t.
Does the President care? No. His aim is to punish women and organizations that serve them — because we stand up for the right to impartial information and dignified and voluntary medical services, including safe abortion. Over the weekend, I marched side-by-side with millions of women across the world to affirm that women’s rights are human rights. Men must stand in solidarity with women to oppose this rule. We cannot abide by a policy that denies a basic human right and puts women’s lives at risk.
Sanger, the grandson of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, is the current chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council. He was the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood-New York City for 10 years.
» Link to this post
Why I March
When I was in college in 1966, a dear friend who I had not seen in a year told me she was pregnant and needed an abortion. She was desperate-and broke. Abortion was illegal. I asked around and got the name of a physician in Washington, D.C., called him, made the arrangements and raised the money for my friend. The doctor turned out to be professional and everything went as smoothly as it could given the circumstances, but I decided that I would do everything I could to ensure no other woman went through what my friend endured. In a way, the experience awakened my social conscience.
I gave my first reproductive rights speech in 1969. I have devoted the last 30 years of my professional life to reproductive and sexual freedom and rights with Planned Parenthood of New York City and with International Planned Parenthood Federation. I was at Cairo for the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, where women were put at the center of the development agenda and in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, where Hillary Clinton proclaimed that Women’s Rights were Human Rights. Women around the world today are in the same position my friend was in this country in 1967. There weren’t a lot of men in Beijing but I was proud to be there and to speak at the NGO Forum on the role of men in women’s rights. We are all in this fight together.
And I am proud to join women and men from throughout the country, throughout the world in our collective roar for women’s rights.

» Link to this post
Not for Women Only - Family Planning for Families
I’m in a Planned Parenthood health center. Men are in the waiting room, as well as women and infants. Primary care, including dermatology, urology, and pediatric care, are offered to all comers. But that is not all. In one adjacent building, there is a cooking class and an adjacent café where the teen (and some adult) budding cooks sell their culinary creations to the public. In another building, teens are learning to cut and style hair; next door teens are measuring customers for made-to-order clothes; and in yet another space, teens are rehearsing a play about responsible decision making and warning against illegal abortion. Nearby are the classrooms of a primary school for the orphan children of the neighborhood. A steam bath in another building has a steady stream of customers from the community.
This is Planned Parenthood? Or have I wandered into some alternative universe?
I’m in Fes, Morocco at the Complexe Lalla Fatima Zagra Laazizia, run by Moroccan Family Planning Association, or, more properly, the Association Marocaine de Planification Familiale (AMPF). AMPF is the Member Association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in Morocco. Founded in 1971, AMPF saw that providing sexual and reproductive health care had to be done in the context of empowerment of women and of disadvantaged young persons, male and female. Family planning had to be part of life planning and life opportunity and needed community support so as to be seen as integral to the futures of girls and boys, women and men. AMPF decided it had to be embedded in the community to succeed. No isolation for them. No services only below the waist. 
No women only. In this it has succeeded.
The nation of Morocco is among the most liberal in the Arab world and is developing rapidly. According to the United Nations, the population is approximately 35 million people, and the birth rate is 2.6. The birthrate in the Arab world is 3.5. According to the World Bank, maternal and infant mortality are declining rapidly in Morocco and the Arab World, with maternal mortality in Morocco at 121 (down from 317 in 1990), versus 156 in the Arab World (down from 289 in 1990). Thus, Morocco had had above average maternal mortality in 1990 and now is lower than average. The under-5 mortality is 28 (down from 239 in 1990). In the Arab World it was 37 in 2014 versus 249 in 1990.
While the life expectancy at birth is 73 years for men and 75 years for women, the educational and economic disparities run in the other direction. According to the UN, 59% of boys are enrolled in secondary school but only 53% of girls. These rates are slightly less than the Arab World at 64% and 58% respectively. In University, the ratios even out with about one-quarter of both young men and young women enrolled. The greatest disparity is in labor force participation, where only one-quarter of women are participating, whereas three-quarters of men are.
Birth-control is available for free in government health clinics and abortion is widely practiced, but is legal only in cases of danger to the health of the woman and in cases of rape, incest or fetal defect (these latter exceptions were added this year.) The contraceptive prevalence rate is 68%, with the modern contraception rate being 58%. The percentages for the Arab world are 51% and 43% respectively.
The Moroccan Family Planning Association operates 30 sexual and reproductive health centers and, in addition, has seven mobile health units. It offered over 1.7 million reproductive health care services last year.
The MFPA clinic and complex in Fes is located in a disadvantaged neighborhood called Sahrij Gnaoua. The Complexe serves the 70,000 inhabitants, where the birth rate is about five children per woman. The illiteracy rate is 55% for women and 35% for men. There is only one Ministry of Health center for this entire population and one doctor from the private sector. 
The Complexe enables women to make choices about their lives, gives young girls and boys opportunities for the future, campaigns against gender-based violence, and creates a social enterprise model and mutual aid partnership between the clinic and all its programs and the entire neighborhood. 
The Complexe is a model for how reproductive health care services can be part of an entire fabric of a neighborhood and garner community and nationwide support. They partner with 65 community groups and do sex education programs in the community schools. Women sit in the hammam and discuss sex and ways to prevent intimate partner violence. There is no opposition. No picketing. No harassment. It is one of Morocco’s great success stories. There are lessons to be learned here.
» Link to this post
Breaking the Waves - The Opera
Breaking the Waves, the breathtaking new opera by composer, Missy Mazzoli, and librettist, Royce Vavrek, had its New York premier on January 6, 2017 at NYU’s Skirball Center. It had premiered in Philadelphia in September 2016 at Opera Philadelphia, which had co-commissioned the work with Beth Morrison Projects. Based on the Lars von Trier movie of the same name, the story is set in an insular (literally) community on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland. A young woman, Bess, a member of the tight-knit religious community, marries an outsider, Jan, to the great consternation of her congregation. He works on an offshore oil rig (for us literalists, there are no oil rigs off of Skye - they are all in the North Sea on the other side of Scotland). Bess prays for his early return. He is injured and paralyzed and, from his hospital bed, asks Bess to have sex with other men and to recount her liaisons to him. The reasons for this request are murky (to keep their marriage and his hopes alive?) but her assent seemingly isn’t: she feels guilty for praying for his early return, feels she may have caused his accident, wants to do the right thing by her husband and believes she will thereby cure him. That said, Bess does like sex, as we saw when she asked Jan to consummate their marriage in a loo at their wedding reception - envisioning it to be a romantic setting when it was anything but. As she sets forth, hesitantly, on her sexual adventures/redemption, is she fooling herself, or her husband, or is she delusional, or full of faith? She certainly does not enjoy the sex. She is degraded, humiliated and victimized and meets a tragic end. Her husband recovers, presumably redeemed by her sacrifice. 
A jagged stage set represents the jagged coast and sharp-edged lives of the residents (and the jumbled souls and psyches of the protagonists). The characters are trapped in a judgmental religious world, with clear rules and no mercy inside or outside the church. Bess is a small woman, as portrayed by Kiera Duffy, but with a large, clear voice, like the church bells that miraculously sound at the final curtain. A 15-piece orchestra conveys Mazzoli’s haunting and jagged score that captures the conflict, desperation and agony of Bess and Jan. A chorus, of 12 men, in soiled black overcoats and black hats, representing the church elders and Bess’s tormentors and assailants, were appropriately oppressive, unforgiving and menacing.
The libretto was pared down and to the point. The staging was dramatic, and the voices were uniformly excellent. Kiera Duffy’s brave portrayal of Bess was riveting. She, and the opera, deserved the standing ovation the audience gave at the end. 
Note: the author is a trustee of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, which makes grants to Opera America, which funded the commission of this opera.

» 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