PolitiFact Silent After Planned Parenthood Repudiates Margaret Sanger's Racism

Fact-checker branded Republicans liars for pointing to PP founder's KKK ties

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
July 22, 2020

PolitiFact is not saying whether its "fact-check" claiming Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was not racist still holds up in light of the organization's largest affiliate admitting Sanger had racist views.

The fact-check, published on Oct. 5, 2015, addressed a claim made by then-presidential candidate Ben Carson. Carson, now the HUD secretary, said, "Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist. She believed that people like me [black Americans] should be eliminated, or kept under control."

PolitiFact called Carson's claim "false."

"While Sanger indeed supported the eugenics movement, substantial evidence shows that she was not racist and in fact worked closely with black leaders and health care professionals," PolitiFact said. It said that Carson's claim "bears no relation to historical reality."

But Sanger's problematic relationship to the eugenics movement is back in the spotlight after Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) renounced her this week, removing her name from a Manhattan clinic. PPGNY's move was supported by the national organization.

Merle McGee, chief equity and engagement officer for PPGNY, told the New York Times, "The biggest concern with Margaret Sanger is her public support for the eugenics medical philosophy which was rooted in racism, ableism and classism."

PolitiFact did not respond to requests for comment on updating the fact-check.

A fact sheet released by Planned Parenthood in 2016 acknowledged that Sanger made a speech about birth control at a Ku Klux Klan meeting in 1926.

"Sanger’s passion to spread and mainstream birth control led her to speak to any group interested in learning how to plan their reproduction. Planned Parenthood strongly disagrees with Sanger’s decision to address an organization that spreads hatred," the sheet stated.

Sanger also endorsed the forced sterilization of disabled or untreatable people, as well as limiting immigration to prevent the influx of "feebleminded" people into the United States. These views aligned her with other progressives of the time.

The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List told the Washington Free Beacon that PolitiFact's stance reflects the media's generally soft coverage of Planned Parenthood.

"PolitiFact is likely too stubborn to admit that they got it wrong, but what further proof do they need when Planned Parenthood itself is finally admitting their founder is a racist?" the group said. "The media gave Planned Parenthood a pass on this for decades, despite mounds and mounds of evidence to the contrary."