Eugenics, Hitler, and the Legalization of Abortion
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness (The Declaration of Independence). These words, written over two hundred years ago, became the very foundation of what the United States of America stands for. Yet in the past hundred years, millions of American citizens have been denied the rights and truths encompassed in this statement.
Legalized abortion has defied the unalienable right to Life and allowed the most marginalized and voiceless group in America to be slaughtered in the womb. Yet this injustice did not begin with denying Life. It began when we embraced the ideals of eugenics and rejected the first truth, that all men are created equal. Only by exposing the roots of legalized abortion in a legacy of eugenics can America have a full understanding of the injustice in this nation.
Eugenics is a science concerned with improving the human species, by such means as influencing or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have desirable genetic traits (Hunt, Abortion and Eugenics). This idea of creating a better race is not a new concept. Though eugenics was not a word then, Plato theorized that an elite human race could be conceived if animal breeding tactics were applied to humans (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter One).
Like the eugenicists that would come after him, he rejected the Biblical principle that every man is predestined by God, called for a certain purpose, and created in the perfect image of God. Jeremiah 1:5 says, Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Plato could not control what man became through breeding techniques, for it is God who creates man.
Despite its faulty foundation, the theory survived through the years. It was finally labeled “eugenics” by Sir Francis Galton in the late nineteenth century. He created the word from two Greek words. The first part, eu (eu), means good. John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe points out that many words with the eu- prefix make a terrible thing appear good, with examples such as eulogy, euphemism, and euthanasia. The second part of the word comes from the Greek word gen (gen). Gen denotes birth or race (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter One).
In one of his addresses, Galton explained that after studying plant and animal methods, he was convinced that traits were hereditary, good and bad alike. Therefore, it is possible to breed people to eliminate the “undesirables” and to multiply the “desirables” (Galton). However, all Galton had was theory based on observation.
Then in the mid 1800s, cellular biologist August Weisman discovered a cell with all the genetic information enclosed. He called it the “germ plasm,” but scientists would later rename it the chromosome. From Weisman’s discovery Galton assumed that every person was the measurable and predictable sum of his ancestor’s immortal germ plasm (Black 17). He now had flawed science to prove his faulty theory.
Galton’s lack of basic respect for human worth was not an original attitude. He was greatly influenced by Reverend Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter One). Malthus was known to society as an influential political economist in early nineteenth century England. He believed that population grew at an exponential rate whereas food grew at a linear rate; meaning society could grow to exceeds their food source (Thomas Malthus “Principle of Population”). Being a clergyman he believed that lack of food was God’s way of forcing the human race to advance, thereby removing the weak-minded.
His proposal was that the poor and working classes be kept from reproducing and that charity to the poor be stopped, which he thought encouraged population growth and reduced the food supply for the better classes of society (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter One). Malthus theory created a necessity to alter reproduction because of over-population. Galton offered the answer with breeding.
Erasmus Darwin was grandfather to Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. Erasmus was actually the first to suggest the theory of evolution. Charles only revised the theory with more research and presented it in his infamous book On The Origin of Species in 1859 (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Two). Darwin agreed with Malthus about over-population but promoted “natural selection” as the means of eliminating the weak (Chapter One).
Galton used his cousin’s theory to strengthen eugenics: if society evolved from protoplasm, then the most evolved should not breed with the less evolved. Evolution and eugenics thereby created an atmosphere for an elitist, racist movement that sought to remove all those believed inferior.
Support of eugenics grew as it infiltrated London’s high societies; however, the movement was going in two directions. One direction was called positive eugenics. Its goal was to encourage or require by law eugenically favorable marriages. The other direction, negative eugenics, sought to eliminate the undesirable through sterilization, euthanasia, segregation or by any other means of stopping the degenerate from reproducing (Black 18-19).
Galton supported only positive eugenics, while his followers believed that only force would preserve their perfect race. Sir Francis Galton died in 1911, leaving behind an alliance of racist men that desired to wipe out all mentally handicapped, physically handicapped, blind, poor, and colored portions of society.
England had no success at passing legislation of a negative eugenic nature. America, however, became fertile soil for negative eugenics in the early Twentieth century (Black 211). Because eugenics generally appeals to the wealthiest and most influential people, benefactors such as the Rockefeller family, Carnegie Institution, and Mrs. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad became part of the American eugenic legacy (56-57). They funded guilds and institutions such as the American Eugenics Society, Carnegie Institution’s Station for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Records Office (219).
It is disappointing that some of the greatest philanthropists turned out to be racist eugenicists. With so much money backing the Americans, they eventually became the leading source for new studies, improved information, and tactics to promote eugenics (213).
A key device used by eugenicists to support their work was the newly developed French intelligence test. Henry Goddard took this test and misconstrued its purpose adapting it to categorize American intelligence (Black 76).
Often biased and flawed, these tests were the basis for segregating and institutionalizing anyone deemed feebleminded by the score they achieved. The terms created to categorize below-normal achievement were “imbecile,” “moron,” and “idiot” (82). Because eugenicists believed that intelligence was inherited, whole families were institutionalized based on one person’s score.
With the ability to scientifically classify humans and segregate them from society, eugenicists began to push for legalized sterilization. The infamous case of Buck v. Bell reached the Supreme Court in 1927, making eugenic sterilization legal in the United States. Records show that approximately 60,000 sterilizations were done, with or without the consent of the patient by the 1950s. Twenty-seven states practiced sterilizations, with California performing the most at two-fifths of all done in the United States (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Five).
The success of the Americans encouraged other nations to implement their own programs. While other countries only simulated United State’s model, Germany took eugenics to its most radical form. By the end of the 1920s, America realized that Germany was one of the new leaders in the global eugenics movement (Black 294). The German eugenicists’ dream came true when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. He was a white supremacist and ardent follower and admirer of American eugenics.
Soon sterilization, euthanasia, abortion, anti-miscegenation laws, and concentration camps were established. Besides the millions killed in the gas chambers, hundreds were also killed in the camp labs in the name of eugenic research. In Auschwitz alone, 1,300 people were killed in twin experimentation (Black 359). The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, which oversaw the experimentations at Auschwitz (Messall 39-40).
Despite the horror the rest of the world felt, American eugenicists praised Germany’s success in doing what they themselves only dreamed of doing (Black 316-17). History shows that the post-World War II eugenics campaign fell from its pinnacle because the world vowed they would not allow the atrocities of Hitler to happen again, at least, not again in that form.
After the war, eugenics became a discredited science because of its association with the Third Reich (Eugenics Stigmatization of eugenics). The movement would have all but died if it were not for Frederick Osborn. Osborn knew that the old strategies would no longer be effective; thus, he began a new eugenics movement that would later be called “crypto-eugenics.”
The essence of this strategy was to no longer promote eugenics openly but to achieve their objectives through other organizations (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Ten). By selectively pouring their money into other movements, they could still remove the unfit from society by utilizing the public’s naiveté of what the organization’s true motives were. Their goal was still the same as the Nazis’, but they would pursue it in a way that would not lead to another Nuremburg Trial.
One of the main groups eugenicists began to conspire with were the birth control advocates. Birth control emerged just after the eugenics movement took off in the early 1910s. It was promoted and expanded mostly through the work of its founder Margaret Sanger. Sanger was a Malthusian eugenicist who believed the “dead weight of human waste” should be “eliminate[d]” (Green “Malthusian Eugenics”).
Besides birth control, she advocated sterilization and eugenics. She did not openly support abortion due Havelock Ellis’s suggestion that “society was not quite ready for it” (Hunt, Perfecting Humankind 2). Her paper, The Birth Control Review, was used not just to promote birth control but eugenic interests. In one edition, an extreme white supremacist eugenic book by Lothrop Stoddard was recommended to the readers (Who was Margaret Sanger?).
Sanger’s American Birth Control Federation, which would eventually become Planned Parenthood, was founded in 1922 and soon began its work at supplying birth control and targeting the undesirables. By 1930, Sanger had a clinic in the heart of Harlem. She taught them that birth control, not better prenatal care, would produce healthier children (Green “The Harlem Clinic”). From that point on, Sanger would continue to open clinics in strategic high-minority, low-income areas.
During the early forties, Margaret Sanger instituted The Negro Project. The goal was to pull African American leaders and preachers into the movement so as to make the black community embrace the concepts birth control. In a letter she wrote to her cohort Dr. Clarence Gamble, she said, “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 the idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members” (Green “Web of Deceit”).
Despite Sanger’s belief that birth control creates a door for the eugenicist, the two movements had yet to formally connect. This was due to the fact that Sanger was a strong advocate of negative eugenics, not positive eugenics (Black 135). She was a die-hard feminist and liberal sex crusader that thought multiple children were a chain and ball on female independence (Grant 73-75). But as post-World War II eugenicists searched for avenues to funnel their vice, Planned Parenthood became a worthy candidate.
In a speech Frederick Osborn gave at the annual Galton Lecture in 1956, he said, “Let’s stop telling everyone that they have generally inferior genetic qualities for they will never agree. Lets base our proposals on the desirability of having children in homes where they will get affectionate and responsible care, and perhaps our proposals will be accepted” and that from this rebirth we may “see [eugenics] moving at last toward the high goals which Galton set for it” (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Ten).
The Eugenics Society of England followed the American leaders and began funding the Family Planning Association and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Not surprisingly, when the IPPF opened in 1952, it was headquartered in the Eugenics Society offices (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, Introduction “Crypto Eugenics”).
The American Eugenics Society played out their scheme through an organization that they created themselves. The veterans and rookies came together in 1952 to found the Population Council. With mainly Rockefeller’s money, they funded the research for a more effective birth control (The Roots Chapter Ten).
The money was funneled into two main types of birth control research: the oral birth control pill and the IUD (intrauterine device). During the early 1950s, Planned Parenthood and the Population Council funded research to duplicate the sex hormone, which led to the creation of the pill in 1956. After testing it on humans in Puerto Rico, it entered the United States market in 1960.
The Population Council began focusing on the IUD after Alan Guttmacher, the previous America Eugenics Society Vice President and current President of Planned Parenthood, suggested it (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Eleven). To eugenicists, the IUD was perfect because once inserted, women would not have children for years.
The legality of birth control and contraception had been up to the states since the early 1900s. This caused a problem for the new eugenic backed movements. Thus Planned Parenthood went against the no contraceptives law in Connecticut by opening a clinic in hopes to reverse the law. The case Griswold v. Connecticut made its way up to the Supreme Court where the majority ruled that the Connecticut law was unconstitutional because it defied a married couple’s right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut Introduction).
The right to privacy clause was justified by the court as a “penumbra,” opening a Pandora’s box that eventually led to the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decision eight years later. This case is a clear example of the judicial activism that is still being battled in our courts today. Contraception and birth control was now legal for married couples and would be made legal for the unmarried in the 1972 case Eisenstadt v. Baird (Subsequent Jurisprudence).
From the beginning, hormonal birth control was based on deception. Hormonal birth control (the Pill, the Minipill, IUD, Norplant, the morning-after-pill, Depo-Provera, RU-486) has always had three possible functions. The first, often most confused as the only function, is to prevent ovulation. If the first function fails, a possible second function is to thicken the mucus of the cervix so that the sperm cannot reach the egg. The third function, a function which all hormone based contraception has, is to thin the lining of the uterus so that the fertilized egg, the baby, is not able to implant in the uterus lining and is thus aborted (Alcorn 323-326, 332).
In early 1960, both Alan Guttmacher and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defined conception as the moment of fertilization, or when the egg meets the sperm. This caused a problem because abortion was illegal then, making their pill and the IUD illegal. So in order to make their birth control, or what they falsely called contraception, legal, they altered the definition of conception.
By 1970, both changed their position and claimed that conception begins with fertilization and ends with implantation in the uterus. In other words, it was not a baby until it was implanted into the uterus (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Eleven). To this day, America is aborting millions of babies in the name of contraception.
With birth control legal and the Sexual Revolution in full swing, abortion was just another step in the direction America and the eugenicist were going. On January 22, 1973, abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Not surprisingly, this case is full of eugenics.
Justice Harry Blackmun, writing the opinion of the court, wrote that states were already adopting the Model Penal Code. This was an extreme code that provided for eugenic abortion and the abortion of babies conceived in rape or incest. Moreover, the code was based on the fraudulent sex study work of Dr. Kinsey who was funded by the eugenic Rockefeller Foundation (Messall 59).
Blackmun also directly cited Glanville Williams and Christopher Tietze multiple times. Both were extreme eugenicists from the British Eugenics Society. Abortion, by Lawrence Lader, was cited seven times. Lader expressed profuse gratitude in his book to Glanville Williams, Christopher Tietze, five American Eugenics Society members, and the Abortion Law Reform Association that included Julian Huxley and twenty-seven members of the Eugenics Society (60).
Continuing in his trend, he noted several state abortion court cases that were based on eugenic theories, an organization that had long supported eugenics, the eugenic book The Biological Time Bomb, and an article that claimed man was taking over its evolutionary process (64-67). The opinion of the court might as well have been drafted by the American Eugenics Society.
Directly after Roe v. Wade was released, the American Eugenics Society changed its name. Osborn said, “The name was changed because it became evident that changes of a eugenic nature would be made for reasons other than eugenics, and that tying a eugenic label on them would more often hinder than help their adoption. Birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances of our time (67).
Besides being immersed in eugenics, Roe v. Wade was founded on lies. “Jane Roe” was really Norma McCorvey. This single, pregnant woman was used by two lawyers to legalize abortion. She never knew anything about the case or its proceedings except that she could get an abortion when the case was over. She never went through with the abortion. The first thing she heard about the case was on the news when Roe v. Wade was decided and abortion was made legal.
Roe v. Wade’s companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which made abortion legal in all three trimesters of pregnancy for virtually any reason, had a similar situation. “Mary Doe’s” real name was Sandra Cano. Her husband was in jail, her kids had been placed to foster care, and she was pregnant at the time the lawyers approached her. When she agreed to be Doe, she thought it was to get a divorce and to get her children back.
They tried to convince her to have an abortion, but she wouldn’t agree to one because she believed abortion was wrong. She had no idea that her case would become the infamous Doe v. Bolton. Now both women are followers of Christ and are trying to reverse their cases (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Thirteen).
If there is any doubt about abortion being rooted in eugenics, modern statistics settle the subject.
78% of Planned Parenthood clinics are in minority communities (Choice Nazi 3). According to the Guttmacher Institute, an African American is three times more likely to have an abortion than a white woman. Hispanics are 2 times more likely to have an abortion than white women (Jones, Darroch, and Henshaw “Women’s Characteristics”). African Americans constitute twelve percent of the national population and have 32% of the abortions (Hall). For every one black child born, three are aborted (Grant 116). 80% of unborn babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted (Will). The RU-486 pill was created by the same company that created Zyklon B gas for the Nazi death chambers (Choice Nazi 6). There are 45% more sterilizations among African American women and 30% more sterilizations among Hispanics than among White women (Grant 117). Not one school-based Planned Parenthood clinic is located in a white majority school (Grant 115).
Americans love the image of the Statue of Liberty and inspired by her words of welcome to the oppressed and disenfranchised of the world: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The sad truth is that America is no longer the safe haven of the defenseless nor the protector of the weak. In fact, we have mercilessly killed our most vulnerable citizens. We need to reclaim the deep respect for the individual and personal liberty that this country was founded on and vehemently reject the ideology of abortion and its racist roots.
Alcorn, Randy. “ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments.” 3rd ed. Sisters: Multnomah, 2000.
Black, Edwin. “War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race.” New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003.
Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, John. “Introduction to Eugenics.” January 1995. Eugenics Watch. 26 February 2006 .
“The Roots of Racism and Abortion: An Exploration of Eugenics.” Xlibris Corporation, 2000. Eugenics Watch. 6 February 2006 .
“Eugenics.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 28 February 2006. 6 February 2006 .
Galton, Francis. “Address on Eugenics.” Westminster Gazette 26 June 1908. Sir Francis Galton FRS. 10 February 2006. .
Grant, George. Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood. 4th ed. Nashville: Cumberland House, 2000.
Green, Tanya L. “The Negro Project: Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Plan for Black Americans.” Concern Women for America. 1 May 2001. 2 March 2006 .
“Griswold v. Connecticut.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 February 2006. 28 February 2006
Hall, Randy. “Abortion Causing ‘Black Genocide,’ Activists Say.” Cybercast News Service 7 February 2005. 6 February 2006 .
Hunt, John. “Perfecting Humankind: A Comparison of Progressive and Nazi Views on Eugenics, Sterilization, and Abortion.” Life and Learning VIII: Proceedings of the Eighth University Faculty for Life Conference. Ed. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J. Washington, D.C.: University Faculty for Life, 1998.
“The Abortion and Eugenics Policies of Nazi Germany.” Research Bulletin 16.1 (2001). Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Value and Social Change. Lifeissues.net. 6 February 2006. .
Jones, Rachel K., Jacqueline E. Darroch, and Stanley K. Henshaw. “Patterns in the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions in 2000-2001.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 34.5 (2002). The Alan Guttmacher Institute. 2 March 2006 .
Messall, Rebecca. “The Long Road of Eugenics: From Rockefeller to Roe v. Wade.” The Human Life Review Fall 2004. The Human Life Foundation Inc.
The Choice Nazi: American Terrorist. Denton: Life Dynamics Incorporated.
“The Declaration of Independence.” Fact Monster. Pearson Education. 2 March 2006.
“The Statue of Liberty Poem.” Fact Monster. Pearson Education. 2 March 2006.
“Thomas Malthus.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 26 Feb 2006. 13 February 2006.
“Who was Margaret Sanger?” Abort73. Loxafamosity Ministries. 28 February 2006
Will, George F. “Eugenics By Abortion.” Washington Post 14 April 2005. 6 February 2006.