Planned Parenthood of Greater New York on Tuesday said it’ll ditch the name of Margaret Sanger — one of the founders of the national organization — from its Lower Manhattan clinic over her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”
The group is also talking to New York City leaders about scrapping Sanger’s name from a street sign that’s hung near its Bleecker Street offices for more than 20 years.
Planned Parenthood dates its beginnings to 1916, when public health nurse Sanger, her sister and a friend opened America’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn.
Long viewed as a feminist hero for her pioneering views on women’s right to choose, Sanger also supported eugenics — a discredited movement to promote selective breeding that often targeted people of color and the disabled.
“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” Karen Seltzer, the chair of Planned Parenthood of New York, said in a statement.
“Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy.”
The Planned Parenthood founder’s troubling embrace of eugenics — which was later practiced by the Nazis — has come into focus in recent years.
In 2016, the national organization issued a fact sheet saying that while it denounced some of Sanger’s beliefs, it defended her as well-intentioned for trying to make birth control widely accessible.
Still, officials with the national group said they supported stripping Sanger’s name from the clinic. It will now be known as the Manhattan Health Center.
“Planned Parenthood, like many other organizations that have existed for a century or more, is reckoning with our history, and working to address historical inequities to better serve patients and our mission,” said Melanie Roussell Newman, a spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The move comes amid a nationwide reckoning over the ties of some revered historical figures to racism.
Last month, Princeton University announced it would remove the name of President Woodrow Wilson from its public policy school because of his views on segregation.