Margaret Sanger, who died 45 years ago, was a nurse and activist who worked to make contraception legal and available in the U.S. Biographer Jean Baker shows Sanger tended to see birth control as the solution to any social problem.
Sanger made it into the news this fall when presidential candidate Herman Cain told “Face the Nation” that Sanger’s intent in founding what later became Planned Parenthood was “preventing black babies from being born.” As a way to stem overpopulation and poverty, Sanger backed involuntary sterilization of black Americans. That's a position even her sympathetic biographer calls "indefensible."
Critics of Planned Parenthood say the legacy of Sanger's thought is now mostly a cynical business plan: promoting sexual activity among the young who will thus become future abortion customers. New Planned Parenthood centers in past years have tended to target Black neighborhoods, allegedly because black women have more abortions than women in other racial groups.
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers of Immaculate Heart Parish in North Portland has said having an abortion clinic in the neighborhood increases promiscuity and counters what most families are trying to teach.
Sadly, Sanger's activism — and her active social and sexual life — made her neglectful of her own three children. Baker's biography includes poignant letters from young sons left at boarding schools but hungry to see their mother. Sanger's 5-year-old daughter died after contracting pneumonia at a radical socialist school where children endured spartan conditions, including insufficient food and a lack of heat.
Hundreds gathered Sunday at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland for the annual Oregon Rally for Life, marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Pioneer Square was a sea of umbrellas as Catholic clergy, parishioners and members of other religious denominations came in the rain to voice opposition to the 1973 decision, which they say undermined human dignity. Archbishop John Vlazny, speaking to the crowd, called the ruling "tragic."
"Over the years more and more of our fellow citizens have come to lament the fact that not even a child in his or her mother’s womb is safe from the deadly forces of selfishness and sin," the archbishop said. "We long for the day when abortion will end, for we know the day will indeed come. We are here today because we seek to protect the life of the littlest and the most vulnerable, because we know that our God will hear their cry."
According to Oregon Right to Life, since Roe v. Wade, more than 54 million unborn babies have been lost to abortion since 1973.
The archbishop said that the power of evil is strong but the power of good is even stronger.
Citing Planned Parenthood, which built a large new center in Northeast Portland and has one under way in Springfield, he said the number of abortions has nevertheless declined in the past 15 years. He noted that advances in ultrasound technology and genetics have provided "indisputable proof" that unborn children are distinct human beings.
"As more and more people recognize that the culture of death is marked by brokenness, confusion and false promises, we have a great opportunity to build a culture of life," Archbishop Vlazny said, praying that God will teach the community how to love and support unborn children and their parents. He also asked prayers for lawmakers.
After the rally, children took up banners and led hundreds of marchers a half mile to the Willamette River waterfront. The previous night, the youths were invited to Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for a presentation on human development and an overnighter at the museum. The group attended Mass at St. Patrick Church in Northwest Portland.
On Jan. 14, about 80 pro-lifers attended the annual Roe v Wade Rally at St. Paul Church in Eugene. Jacqueline McDonald spoke on the effects of abortion. On hand were Fathers Liam Cary and Bryce McProud of St. Mary Church in Eugene and Father David Cullings of Marist High School. The morning concluded with a parade and a march on Coburg Road.
Annual marches and rallies took place across the country on Sunday. Tens of thousands of people from across the United States gathered in the nation's capital for this year's March for Life in Washington with the theme: "Unite on the life principles to overturn Roe v. Wade and with love protect mothers and preborn children — no exception, no compromise."
A capacity crowd of about 20,000 pilgrims filled the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life, which began with a Jan. 22 vigil Mass. The overnight vigil, included a closing Mass Jan. 23 and hourly Holy Hours in between.