Recent Interviews

Here are links for two recent radio interviews: a discussion with Kalamazoo’s Gordon Evans on WMUK, and a talk on the WGBH Cambridge Forum.



Also, from an interview that ran in the Kansas City Star on August 21st:

On With Grandma’s Cause

KAREN UHLENHUTH

Alexander C. Sanger was in town last week, carrying on the business that his famous grandmother, Margaret Sanger, started nearly 100 years ago.

Alexander Sanger, chairman of the International Planned Parenthood Council, was in Kansas City to address a gathering to raise money for a Kansas political action committee that lobbies for reproductive freedom.

Sanger practiced law for 14 years, then ran a business for three years. About 15 years ago he decided to jump into the waters of reproductive issues on a full-time basis. He was the president of Planned Parenthood of New York City in the 1990s and wrote a book – Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century – that was published in February.

He sat down with The Star to talk about his work and reproductive issues.

Q: Tell us about the book.

A: There has been a constant stream of legislation at the state and federal level restricting a woman’s access. I ask, and hopefully answer, why there should be reproductive freedom. I think it’s good for humanity. It helps people reproduce successfully.

Q: Is it your position that there should be no constraints on abortion or birth control?

A: That’s correct. Until the point of viability, it’s a woman’s decision. A young woman or man seeking birth control has to have the mental capability to make that decision. Clinics should have screening mechanisms to make sure a girl is making a mature choice. I don’t think a birth date is a way to ascertain someone’s ability to make that decision.

Q: Are the controversial matters of birth control and abortion close to the hearts of many people in your family?

A: My father helped his mother run (the birth control clinic she opened in Brooklyn in 1916). He is a medical doctor, but he didn’t work there. He was a board member. Two of my sisters have been on the boards of local Planned Parenthood clinics. I’m the only one doing it full time.

Q: Did the issue of access to birth control and abortion come up in conversation in your childhood home?

A: Growing up, we talked about it, if not daily, very frequently. My grandmother came to visit frequently. People knew who my grandmother was, and no one had a bad word to say about her, not even the Catholic families that lived in the neighborhood.

Q: The rate of teenage pregnancy has been tumbling lately, hasn’t it?

A: It’s been going down since 1991. It has decreased by 25 percent or 30 percent.

Q: To what do you attribute that?

A: I think increased economic opportunity for women. They see their prospects as better. I think also improved contraceptive use, especially the injected contraceptives like Depo-Provera. There’s been some success in getting both partners to use a contraceptive. And there are reports of less sexual activity. It’s partly awareness of AIDS, and there have been programs encouraging young people to abstain until marriage.

The disturbing thing is there’s been a rise in sexually transmitted diseases during the ’90s among people of all ages, including teens. Gonorrhea and chlamydia in particular.

Abstinence-only education has been damaging because it doesn’t educate young people about condom use.

Q: Did raising children – you have three grown sons – modify your attitude about sex education?

A: I became concerned that we needed even earlier sex education. We talked about it at home ad nauseam.

When we watched TV and something about sex came up, we talked about it. It seems to have worked. They are comfortable talking about sex. It reinforced my belief in parents being the primary sex educators. My wife and I were able to do that. But some parents can’t. Most people, when asked, want schools to provide sex education.

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