Birth control and racism

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Despite extensive whitewashing by contemporary leftists, birth control and racism are heavily linked both in history and the present. In the United States, eugenics, a brainchild of the Progressive Movement, led to state-enforced implementations of Social Darwinism which became manifested in crimes against humanity justified by leftists as "human betterment." Birth control became a tool for white supremacy viewed as means to persecute nonwhites, and was promoted alongside rampant immigration restriction out of racist fearmongering.

According to a publication by the National Library of Medicine:[1]

Simplistic eugenic thinking has faded, but coerced sterilization remains widespread, especially in China and India. In many parts of the world, involuntary sterilization is still intermittently used against minority groups.

—Philip R. Reilly, NCBI

U.S. Progressives

Second Ku Klux Klan

Sanger in the 1920s.

In May 1926, Margaret Sanger spoke to a New Jersey chapter of the Ku Klux Klan[2] to promote birth control,[3][4] subsequently writing in her autobiography:[5]

Always to me any aroused group was a good group, and therefore I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan at Silver Lake, New Jersey, one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing.

—Autobiography of Margaret Sanger, p. 366

The Second Klan, an organization which outspokenly extolled eugenics, promoted fearmongering of "inferior stock" replacing "superior" groups. Although earlier race demagogues accused upper-class women for having insufficient children, the KKK did not denounce birth control, and feared that black birth rates were too high.[6] Many Klan members were instead prone to supporting contraception, most notably evident in Sanger's invitation to speak before the Silver Lake, New Jersey group.

Lothrop Stoddard, a prominent birth control activist from Massachusetts, was invited to the first meeting of the fifteen-member National Council board of directors of the American Birth Control League by Sanger.[7] According to Hearst's International in 1923, there was "documentary evidence" that Stoddard was an Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan.[8] Stoddard was an outspoken white supremacist demagogue who invented the great replacement hoax along with conservationist Madison Grant and strongly opposed immigration, particularly among Eastern Europeans and Asians who he viewed as inferior.[9][10] His virulent racism influenced Nazi eugenics and are glorified in the present day by the "alt-right."[11]

Eugenics in Oregon, 1920s–40s

According to Robert R. McCoy in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 110, the middle-class during the Progressive Era formed a movement summarized by historians as "radical democratic populism."[12] Also deemed "reactionary populism," it was used to describe the tendency for Progressive activists to advocate democratic reforms while simultaneously discriminating against racial and ethnic minorities. The Progressive Movement was strong in Oregon, where agrarian contempt for Yankee capitalism fueled left-wing populist causes like free coinage of silver;[13] such economic appeals were mixed with overt anti-Asian sentiment, which was prominent in the West.

Oregon Klansmen marching during the 1920s.

During the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan became a powerful force in Oregon, as was the case in numerous other states where the Progressive Movement carried a lasting impact. The Oregon Voter tracked fifty-eight known klaverns in the state nearing the end of 1922.[14] Walter M. Pierce, a lifelong Democrat who led the banner of "radical democratic populism" known for persistent bigotry against ethnic minorities including blacks, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and Jews, was elected governor in 1922 over anti-Klan incumbent Republican Ben W. Olcott. During his tenure as governor, Pierce signed into law a sterilization act in 1923.[15][16] McCoy writes:

Pierce, during his term as governor, signed a bill "allowing the sterilization of the feebleminded and the criminally insane in state institutions." ... Pierce "took pleasure" in signing what he described as "the first really effective law in the United States on sterilization."

—"The Paradox of Oregon's Progressive Politics," p. 410

According to Gerald Schwartz, "Pierce was a longtime student of eugenics."[16] Previously in the late 1910s, when a member of the state legislature, Pierce twice supported legislation calling for the sterilization of the "unfit." His support for eugenics stemmed from his knowledge in animal breeding. Schwartz writes that when Gov. Pierce signed into law the 1923 sterilization act, it may have made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute sterilization into practice.[16]

Pierce's lifelong white supremacy motivated his support for birth control.

Pierce's eugenic advocacy was further motivated by the activism of his third wife Cornelia, who along with Bethine Owens-Adair supported the 1923 sterilization bill.[15] When he was later elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the state's 2nd congressional district, Pierce introduced legislation to permit the dissemination of contraception literature via mail; such efforts to modify the Comstock Act were praised by Margaret Sanger. McCoy states of the Pierces' motives:[17]

Both Cornelia and Walter advocated for sterilization of the unfit and the creation of a fit white race through birth control. Both sides of eugenics rest on the premise that only those deemed fit to propagate the race should be allowed to live or procreate. Unlike the radical democratic populism that Pierce backed through most of his life, his adherence to the tenets of eugenics exposed a side of politics that elevated certain groups into a position of political and economic power based on their race and physical capabilities.

—"The Paradox of Oregon's Progressive Politics," p. 411

Anti-miscegenation laws were also supported by Oregon Progressives alongside sterilization and other forms of eugenics; middle-class white women favored such laws out of fear that white men might otherwise marry nonwhites.[4]

Comstock laws identified birth control with obscenity and therefore banned its propagation through mail. In 1933, Pierce reintroduced a "Doctor's Bill" which would amend criminal code sections to circumvent Comstock Act provisions by declaring that prohibitions on obscenity cannot apply to contraception.[18] He contacted Margaret Sanger to request support from the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, and subsequent lectures by Sanger led to increased apparent willingness from senators and representatives in support of Pierce's bill. However, continued opposed the legislation, particularly from Catholics, ensured its defeat in Congress.[18]

Pierce's racism, continuing throughout his life, was marked not only in support for birth control. During his U.S. House years as a New Dealer whose support for statist control of the economy was denounced by business interests as socialistic, he continued his open hatred of blacks, Jews, and Japanese-Americans. In 1937, the chamber passed the Gavagan–Wagner anti-lynching bill by a wide margin with support from Republicans and most Northern Democrats;[19] Pierce was absent on the vote though indicated his intent to oppose the legislation.[15] He voted against the 1940 Gavagan–Fish anti-lynching bill,[20] opposed allowing Jewish children to flee from Nazi Germany into the U.S., and vociferously demanded an en masse persecution of Japanese-Americans, viewing FDR's internment as insufficient.


  1. Reilly, Philip R. (2015). Eugenics and Involuntary Sterilization: 1907-2015. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  2. Kengor, Paul (October 2, 2017). The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  3. Bilby, Joseph G.; Ziegler, Harry (October 25, 2011). The Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey, pp. 92–93. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gordon, Linda (October 24, 2017). The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  5. Sanger, Margaret (1938). Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  6. Gordon, Linda (October 15, 2017). Threat to Democracy: The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s: A Warning from History. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  7. Franks, Angela (2005). Margaret Sanger's Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  8. 1923. Hearst's International: Vol. 44, p. 10. Google Books. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  9. Chalmers, David M. (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, pp. 270–71. Internet Archive. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  10. Cleveland, Margot (August 21, 2017). Nazis Support Abortion, Gun Control, And Speech Codes. That Describes The Left. The Federalist. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  11. Silberman, James (April 10, 2017). Planned Parenthood’s Founder Is The Original Alt-Right Supremacist. The Federalist. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  12. McCoy, Robert R. (2009). The Paradox of Oregon's Progressive Politics: The Political Career of Walter Marcus Pierce, p. 392. JSTOR. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  13. "The Paradox of Oregon's Progressive Politics," p. 395.
  14. Proclamation Against the Ku Klux Klan, 1922. Oregon History Project. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "The Paradox of Oregon's Progressive Politics," pp. 409–10.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Schwartz, Gerald (1987). Walter M. Pierce and the Birth Control Movement, p. 371. JSTOR. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  17. "The Paradox of Oregon's Progressive Politics," p. 411.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Walter M. Pierce and the Birth Control Movement," pp. 372-79.
  19. TO PASS H. R. 1507, AN ANTI-LYNCHING BILL. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  20. TO PASS H.R. 801, A BILL TO MAKE LYNCHING A FEDERAL CRIME. Retrieved December 12, 2022.