Now is not just the time to call out violent racism gone viral, it is also a time to look inward. Planned Parenthood, like many other organizations that have existed for a century or more, is reckoning with racism in our history, and looking inward to address our historical inequities to better serve patients and our mission.
This crucial work includes acknowledging that our founder, Margaret Sanger, was a part of a eugenics movement that was rooted in ableist and racist ideals. While Sanger never advocated for “Black genocide” as some in the anti-abortion movement have claimed, she put what she saw as clear benefits of birth control far ahead of any regard she held for Black people.
We cannot condone that behavior. And we cannot ignore how her behavior and associations have shaped Planned Parenthood today.
Planned Parenthood is committed to racial justice. We also recognize that we cannot address structural racism or white supremacy in this country and communities without addressing our own.
Our commitment to racial justice also means calling out columnists and organizations who misuse and abuse the history around Sanger’s complicated legacy to shame people, often specifically Black women, for seeking sexual and reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Co-opting the Movement for Black Lives and expressing false concern for Black communities while seeking to eliminate people's access to safe, legal abortion is disgraceful. It infantilizes Black women by assuming they are incapable of making their own decisions about their bodies and families.
Planned Parenthood’s mission today is to build a world in which every person — regardless of their race, income, insurance, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities, or immigration status — can access expert, compassionate sexual and reproductive health care, information, and education without shame or judgement. This includes birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, gender affirming care, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pregnancy testing and education, well-person care, and safe and legal abortion.
Now, more than ever, the ability to access affordable reproductive health care and to control if and when to have children is crucial for the patients and communities we serve.
We plan to continue having uncomfortable conversations. And we plan to continue fighting to ensure that all people have access to the care they need.
Jenna Tosh is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast.
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