In a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing held on the Foreign Policy Priorities of the Obama Administration, Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to explain her stated admiration for Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Clinton recently received Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award. Sanger was in favor of eugenics, as Smith points out. Congressman Smith, a well-know pro-life hero, proceeded to ask Secretary Clinton if the Obama Administration intended to weaken or overturn the pro-life laws in place in other countries.
Here is Congressman Smith’s full question:
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, in receiving Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger’s award in Houston on March 27, you said that you were, quote, “in awe of Margaret Sanger.” You said that, “Sanger’s life and leadership was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race and that Sanger’s work both here and abroad was not done,” quote-unquote. With all due respect, Madam Secretary, Sanger’s legacy was indeed transformational, but not for the better if one happens to be poor, disenfranchised, weak, disabled, a person of color, and unborn child, or among the many so-called undesirables Sanger would exclude and exterminate from the human race. Sanger’s prolific writings dripped with contempt for those she considers to be unfit to live. I’ve actually read many of Sanger’s articles and her books. Sanger was an unapologetic eugenicist and racist, who said, and I quote, “The most merciful thing a family does for one of its infant members is to kill it.”
She also said, on another occasion, quote, “Eugenics is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems.”
In her book, “The Pivot of Civilization,” Sanger devoted an entire chapter, which she entitled “The Cruelty of Charity,” to explaining a shockingly inhumane case for the systematic denial of prenatal and maternal health care for poor pregnant women.
Quote, “Such benevolence is not merely superficial and nearsighted,” Sanger wrote, it, quote, “conceals a stupid cruelty and leads to a deterioration in the human stock and the perpetuation of defectives, delinquents and dependents.” So it is extraordinarily difficult how anyone could be in awe of Margaret Sanger, a person who made no secret whatsoever of views that were antithetical to protecting fundamental human rights of the weakest and the most vulnerable and to suggest that her work remains undone around the world. As I think you know, in 2000 alone, Planned Parenthood killed over 305,000 children by abortion in the United States alone, and millions more worldwide.
So as part of Sanger’s work that remains undone, my question: is the Obama administration seeking in any way to weaken or overturn pro- life laws and policies in African and Latin American countries, either directly or through multilateral organizations, including and especially the United Nations, African Union, or the OAS, or by way of funding NGOs like Planned Parenthood? And secondly, and so we can have total transparency, you know, as a former lawmaker, we always have definition pages when we write legislation, definitions do matter. Does the United States’ definition of the term “reproductive health” or “reproductive services” or “reproductive rights” include abortion? I yield to the distinguished gentlelady.
In her response Secretary Clinton dodges Congressman Smith’s questions and gives a very generic answer that gives us no indication of whether or not the Obama Administration intends to use the federal tax dollars to undermine the pro-life laws of other nations.
CLINTON: Congressman, I deeply respect your passionate concern and views which you have championed and advocated for over the course of your public career.
We, obviously, have a profound disagreement. When I think about the suffering that I have seen of women around the world, I’ve been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting new babies and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions. I’ve been in African countries where 12 and 13-year-old girls are bearing children. I have been in Asian countries where the denial of family planning consigns women to lives of oppression and hardship.
So we have a very fundamental disagreement and it is my strongly held view that you are entitled to advocate and everyone who agrees with you should be free to do so anywhere in the world, and so are we. We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health and reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal and rare. I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to bring down the rate of abortions and it has been my experience that good family planning and good medical care brings down the rate of abortion. Keeping women and men in ignorance and denied the access to services actually increases the rate of abortion.
During my time as first lady, I helped to create the campaign against teenage pregnancy and while we were working to provide good information, access to contraception, and decision-making that would enable young women to protect themselves and say no, the rate of teen pregnancy went down. I’m sad to report that after an administration of eight years that undid so much of the good work, the rate of teenage pregnancy is going up. So we disagree and we are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care.