Bishop Jackson, Abortion, and Margaret Sanger

Virginia’s lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Bishop E.W. Jackson has made some claims about race and abortion and Margaret Sanger that have a lot of liberals painting the man crazy. Is there truth behind what he said about racism and family planning?

In 1990, the rate of black women having abortion was 63.9 per 100,000 compared to 21.5 per 100,000 for white women. And while it is true that the rate for black women had fallen to 48.2 per 100,000 by 2007, it fell even faster for white women (13.8 per 100,000) during this period. This means that the black rate of abortion three-and-a-half times the white rate. 

Margaret Sanger believed in black racial inferiority. She believed that poverty was the result of uncontrolled fertility. She was a eugenicist. The intersection of these commitments is reflected in aggressive efforts to lower fertility among those with darker skin. Her own words condemn her. To provide a sample, Sanger was concerned that the black community might become suspicious of her “Negro Project,” which was aimed at reducing fertility in the black community. She actively worked to recruit black ministers to her cause because, in her words, “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” 

I support contraception and abortion. In fact, I don’t think there should be any age, trimester, or any other restrictions on abortion, including parental notification. Women of any age should be able to obtain contraception and have an abortion for any reason or no reason at all and the state ought to pay for it as it and it must be entirely voluntary. But my support for reproductive rights has nothing to do with Margaret Sanger’s beliefs and motives, and on this score, Jackson is more right than wrong.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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