I am back again with another article about—you guessed it—the unendingly problematic book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape. This time, I bring you a criticism from Tiloma Jayasinghe’s essay “When Pregnancy is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will be Pregnant.” The essay is really more about pregnancy than it is about abortion. The author’s criticism is that, through various laws and public policies, certain types of women (eg. low-income women, drug-dependant women, etc.) are monitored more closely when they become pregnant, such that the very act of them becoming pregnant borders on criminality.
As I was reading through this essay, I found myself writing “Fair point” in the margins. To be perfectly honest, I suspect that my response was less a reflection of my agreement with the author’s critiques as it was a reflection of my relief that, finally, someone in the book was writing something semi-coherent (which meant that I no longer felt the need to scrawl rant after rant in the margins.)
But then, rather predictably, Jayasinghe wrote something so shockingly hypocritical that it bordered on being amusing:
“Anti-abortion groups are clearly ‘pro-life’ only for certain kinds of life (white and middle to upper class) and are really, in fact, anti-sex” (Friedman & Valenti, 2008, p. 268).
Now, evidently, this statement is made after a long line of “arguments” that are meant to build up to this grand finale. However, regardless of the context, this claim is so blatantly false—and so bloody ironic—that, knowing what I do about the history of the pro-abortion movement, I felt compelled to respond. (The only other alternative was for me to write another rant in the margins of the book, and unfortunately, I had run out of space.)
Now, I could respond to this claim by going on and on about the plethora of ways that pro-life individuals help women from all walks of life, regardless of their racial or socio-economic backgrounds. I could take Jayasinghe’s bait and argue at length about why pro-lifers have the moral high ground.
But if I did this, I would be playing Jayasinghe’s game. I would be conceding the underlying premise: namely, that pro-abortion individuals actually have the moral high ground, and that pro-lifers need to somehow level the playing field. And quite frankly, that is a premise that I will never agree to for many reasons. The pertinent reason in this situation, however, is because the pro-abortion movement was founded on eugenics, and therefore has no right to claim moral superiority.
Jayasinghe’s accusation is essentially that pro-life people are racist, classist, and pro-eugenics, that we prefer certain racial and socio-economic groups to others. The beautiful, hypocritical irony of this claim is that, not only is that objectively untrue about the pro-life movement, but it is also objectively true about the pro-abortion movement.
Eugenics has played a disturbing role in the rise and proliferation of both birth control and abortion. This was largely due to the influence of Margaret Sanger, who was the founder of the organization that we now call Planned Parenthood (which today is the largest abortion provider in North America and a prominent advocate and provider of abortions in developing nations in the Global South).
It was Margaret Sanger who really ushered in eugenics and married it with the movement from reproductive rights.
It was Margaret Sanger who spoke about the need to export birth control to the “biologically less endowed stocks” of humans in India.
It was also Margaret Sanger who made the following statement:
Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives. The male defectives are no less dangerous… Moreover, when we realize that each feeble-minded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded (Sanger, 1922, The Pivot of Civilization, pg. 101-102).
If that isn’t enough, Margaret Sanger made this statement as well:
Every single case of inherited defect, every malformed child, every congenitally tainted human being brought into this world is of infinite importance to that poor individual; but it is of scarcely less importance to the rest of us and to all of our children who must pay in one way or another for these biological and racial mistakes (Sanger, 1922, The Pivot of Civilization, pg. 273-274).
These are the words of Margaret Sanger, who is considered the founding mother of birth control, Planned Parenthood, and, by extension, the pro-abortion movement in North America.
Everything that Margaret Sanger and her pro-birth control, pro-sterilization, and pro-abortion colleagues did was informed—tainted—by this toxic mentality. It was a mentality that believed only certain individuals with certain characteristics and body types belonged in society. It was also a mentality of entitlement, a mentality that believed that, somehow, we as individuals, as parents, as “normal” members of society, have the right to decide which lives are valued and which lives are not, who gets the ability to live and who does not. This is the pro-eugenics mentality. And, like it or not, this mentality was the foundation of the pro-abortion movement.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, this is why it is so rich to have pro-abortion feminists like Tiloma Jayasinghe accuse pro-life advocates of holding pro-eugenics beliefs. If Jayasinghe and the rest of the diversity-loving, inclusion-promoting, abortion-on-demand-supporting radical feminists want to find the people who hold ideas about reproduction that are tainted by racism, classism, and eugenics, they need only look in the mirror and in the archives of the pro-abortion movement.
I rest my case.by