Antichoicer lies 2

Last time we talked about a quote which purported to prove that Margaret Sanger – and thus all prochoicers, because we’re the side in this debate which has no original thoughts – was all about the unrestrained sexy times.

I will pause momentarily so the Sanger scholars can pick themselves up off the floor.  Seriously, I’ve done all of an hour’s reading of her work, and … ahahahahahaha.

Now, the second quote, which is far more interesting for what antichoicers want to pretend it implies, and for the actual context it appears to be lifted from.

Quote 2: We ❤ Baby Murder

The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.

As with quote #1, this is usually cited as:

The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.

Sources: one, two, three, etc etc etc

… because apparently antichoicers only have the one issue of The Woman Rebel and aren’t too creative when making shit up.

But does the quote exist?

Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaahkinda.  It does not appear in The Woman Rebel Volume 1, Number 1, but the original quote appears in chapter 5 of Woman and the New Race.  And we all know context is everything:

  • Chapter V is entitled The wickedness of creating large families.
  • It outlines the steadily rising mortality rates of children under 1 year old based on the number of children in their family.
  • It notes that these mortality rates are in fact not the full story, because of course a number of children who make it to age 1 don’t make it to age 5. 

And thus Sanger concludes:

The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it. The same factors which create the terrible infant mortality rate, and which swell the death rate of children between the ages of one and five, operate even more extensively to lower the health rate of the surviving members. Moreover, the overcrowded homes of large families reared in poverty further contribute to this condition. Lack of medical attention is still another factor, so that the child who must struggle for health in competition with other members of a closely packed family has still great difficulties to meet after its poor constitution and malnutrition have been accounted for.

Bold mine.

Sanger is obviously not saying – as the antichoice quote purports – that killing babies is always a totally cool thing to do.  She’s talking about babies who might have a less-than-50% chance of living out a year.  She’s talking about babies born into poverty and overcrowding and poor medical care.

She has a particularly nasty view – as disclaimed in my earlier post – about children born into such environments who have disabilities, and also notes somewhat dispassionately that older children forced into work to support younger siblings will unfortunately drag down their father’s wages.  It’s not all sunshine and prochoice lollipops, but it’s also not what RTL and antichoicers across the internet want to pretend it is:  murdering babies for funsies.

Because Margaret Sanger was against infanticide.  In fact, she was against abortion in principle, and seems to have had a utopian view of a world where no one needed to have abortions because contraception was available and foolproof.  But she couldn’t ignore the facts that a lot of children were living in dire poverty and being killed after-birth anyway, and that control over reproduction was vital to women’s liberation.

That’s prochoicers for you.  Comprehending the realities of life and understanding that babies aren’t always exactly what Hallmark gift cards crack them up to be.

Of note

There is an article in The Rebel Woman Volume 1, Number 1 which also deals with infanticide.  It is Benita Locke’s Mothers’ Pensions: The Latest Capitalist Trap which argues, similarly, that poor families may be killing infants (or, to use a classic antichoice loophole, “letting them die”) because conditions are so unsustainable.

The plain truth is that among the children of the poor, the birth of a child is a misfortune, while its death is a blessing, not even in disguise.  Parents often deliberately remove their children from the world rather than that their little ones should be condemned to the veritable hell on earth which they feel they would be obliged to endure, if allowed to live.

Locke’s main argument though is that state benefits provided to poor families (mothers in particular) to encourage them to keep their babies is basically a capitalist trap, designed to ensure more workers are produced for the economic machine while not actually providing sufficient means to raise the babies in question happily and healthily.

But of course for antichoicers to acknowledge the absolutely horrible conditions which some ~precious unborn babies~ must live in after birth, and the lack of comprehensive social support for them, would involve some actual compassion and logical consistency on their part.

And they’re far too busy making up lies to actually give a fuck about born babies, who are no more use in their campaign to control pregnant people’s bodies.

Let’s also note

The extra lying cherry on top of the lying pie in RTL’s original media release is that not only are the two “quotations” presented as fact, they’re joined with an ellipsis, implying they’re part of the same piece of text.

The same piece of made-up antichoice lying text, maybe.

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3 comments

  1. AlisonM

    I’m interested: In your forensic investigations into this local Sanger obsession, have you gotten a sense of where it started (U.S. I assume) and just what the anti-choicers hope to achieve with it? I take you as suggesting that by tarring Sanger they think they will tar us all. That’s all I can see, too, but can that really be it? (I suppose it also gels a little bit with historical efforts to, for example, appropriate MLK and Susan B. Anthony to their cause.) Still, I find some of this historical stuff a bit curious because it doesn’t seem like a particularly strong hand to play, so I wondered, hmm, is there more to it…?? Something I’m not getting? Do you know if they have gone after our own family planning pioneers like Ettie Rout and Elsie Locke etc.? I haven’t seen it, but for mental health reasons, don’t read too much of that stuff. I think you know about some of the “race suicide” scaremongering on the local anti-choice side, e.g. Dr. Doris Gordon. But pro-choicers — wisely I think — don’t seem to see much mileage in harping on about historical figures in quite the same way. Because, well, it’s usually (though not always) dishonest to do so, as you are showing in these posts, which I’m enjoying BTW. Idle wonderings…

    • QoT

      Annoyingly, while I was writing this I couldn’t find an article I read yeeeeears ago on an American feminist blog, which laid out the theory that appealing to historical authority figures is a really (US) right-wing/fundy thing to do. Consider their ongoing love affair with Ronald Reagan. But if you’re a lefty/progressive type, there’s just not one canonical figure you’d look to, because feminists, for example, might be into Dworkin or Greer or hooks or Butler and we know that to assume a person agrees with X thinker or Y writer isn’t going to be accurate.

      This obviously doesn’t stop the anti-feminists who continually presume that Andrea Dworkin is a feminist goddess whose (usually misquoted) words are carved into the hearts of everyone who uses the “feminist” label. And I think it can maybe have some cut-through with people who don’t really think about political issues like abortion, so when they see an antichoicer – who’s carefully hiding their misogyny – acting “really concerned” about the “racism” of Planned Parenthood’s founder, they might be influenced by that. So it works on two levels for the fundies, scaring people with “but didn’t you know such-and-such was A NAZI????” on the one hand and fulfilling their own dependence on authority figures on the other.

      I haven’t found a good historical source for the Sanger quotations so far – the internet is so flooded with basically identical copy-pasted antichoice websites – but it would be a really interesting thing to track down!