About Alexander Sanger

Alexander C. Sanger is the author of Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century published in January 2004 by PublicAffairs. Mr. 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 and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. He also operates a website and weblog AlexanderSanger.com with commentary on reproductive rights issues. 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 says: “My grandmother was arrested when she first opened America’s first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in 1916. At that time, birth control was illegal and reproductive rights did not exist. Two generations later, we are still fighting for the right to talk frankly with women about their reproductive health care and options regarding pregnancy and to give them the services they need.”

As president of PPNYC during the 1990’s Mr. Sanger led the agency in many political and social triumphs. In May 1991, Mr. Sanger and PPNYC’s Board of directors decided to reject federal funding tied to the Gag Rule that would have prohibited its medical professionals from mentioning abortion when counseling patients. Two years later, Mr. Sanger was invited to the White House to witness a newly-elected President Clinton ceremoniously end the gag rule in his first week in office.

Shortly after assuming the Presidency of PPNYC, Mr. Sanger launched the Clinician Training Initiative, designed to address the disturbing fact that few doctors were trained or willing to perform abortions. Since its inception in 1993, the program has trained over 100 Ob-Gyn residents and has accomplished two major policy victories with lasting national impact. In response to PPNYC’s recommendation, the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education began requiring all Ob-Gyn residents to be trained in performing abortions. PPNYC also persuaded New York State officials to allow physician assistants to perform abortions.

Mr. Sanger established PPNYC as a leader in medical abortion. Many doctors who do not perform surgical abortions have said they would provide RU-486 and other medical alternatives. When accomplished, this will be a major step forward in terms of women’s privacy and reducing the escalating violence against women and reproductive health care workers by anti-choice zealots. PPNYC was the first to offer medical abortions using methotrexate to patients and sponsored a national conference in May 1997, to educate the medical community about the merits, methods and concerns of medical abortions, preparing the way for providers to add RU-486 to their services.

Under Mr. Sanger’s stewardship, PPNYC acted as a vigilant watchdog over local, state and federal policies affecting women’s reproductive health. Due to PPNYC’s 1995 petition, the FDA announced in February of 1997 that birth control pills could be used safely and effectively as an emergency contraceptive. And when federal restrictions were established prohibiting the dispersal of abortion information on the Internet, Mr. Sanger brought suit, entitled Sanger v. Reno, against the government to enjoin the law’s enforcement of The Communications Decency Act of 1996.

As a spokesperson and advocate, Mr. Sanger was named “One of the 100 Most Influential People on the Planet” in 1995 by Earth Times. He attended and lectured at both the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995.

Mr. Sanger directed extensive lobbying efforts to convince members of Congress to unlock international family planning funds in early 1997 and each year thereafter. He is committed to raising awareness in America and throughout the world about the need and demand in developing countries for quality reproductive health care, education and facilities.

Mr. Sanger’s background includes six years as a partner in the law firm of White and Case and three years running a manufacturing business. He holds a doctor of jurisprudence and master of business administration degrees from Columbia University, a master of laws from New York University, and a BA in history from Princeton University. During the 1990’s he was the only male member of the New York City Commission on the Status of Women and was a member of the Advisory Council of the Princeton University Program in the Study of Women and Gender and the Council of Advisors of the Wellesley Centers for Women.

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