by Julie Roys
Christianity Today is facing sharp criticism for publishing an article last week whitewashing the legacy of Margaret Sanger, a eugenicist who viewed contraception as a means of creating a genetically improved human race. According to Christianity Today editor Amy Julia Becker, the purpose of the article was “to draw attention to the number of women, children, and unborn babies who die in countries without access to contraception.” Instead, because the article linked Sanger to its promotion of contraception, it sparked “an Internet maelstrom of comments,” hundreds of tweets and prompted Becker to issue an apology.
It’s no surprise the article sparked strong backlash. After all, Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wanted to exterminate the “Negro population.” She once wrote that birth control is “nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit.” It’s stunning that guest author Rachel Marie Stone tried to “give the charge of ‘eugenecist’ a more complete background” by suggesting that Sanger wanted to help women “be good wives and good mothers.” I appreciate that Christianity Today quickly recognized this error and corrected it.
Yet, what I still find disturbing is that Christianity Today and its critics have failed to acknowledge something equally objectionable in Stone’s article: it argues for a completely godless solution based on completely godless reasoning. In fact, Becker quotes Timothy Dalrymple, an editor at Patheos, who wrote, “I hope you can make this argument more powerfully and more effectively in future by not making it seem as though one must accept or pseudo-accept Sanger in order to agree.” In other words, it’s fine to promote birth control as the solution to suffering in the developing world; just don’t link it to Sanger.
Now, I don’t doubt that Stone’s motives in writing the article were noble. After all, she was addressing the very real problem of mothers and children dying prematurely developing countries – something she witnessed first-hand working as a doula in Malawi. Stone also wanted to dispel the myth that women seek contraception – and abortion – merely because they’re self-centered and don’t love children. The reality is that many women in developing countries are struggling to feed the children they have and simply can’t conceive of feeding another. Plus, they are trying to protect their own health. Men in their cultures often treat them as property and impregnate them early – some when they are only 12 or 13 – and often: Stone told of women with untreated tuberculosis and AIDS who were pregnant for the fifth, sixth or seventh time.
These women, Stone reported, sometimes resort to unsafe abortions, which can kill both them and their unborn children. Or, they can die in childbirth, miscarry, or give birth to unhealthy newborns, which soon die. These deaths – millions of them each year – Stone argued, could be averted simply by equipping women with contraception they control, like the pill or Depo-Provera shot.
Now, I grieve with Stone the incredible pain, suffering and death that women and their children in developing countries experience. My parents spent a decade serving as medical missionaries in Zimbabwe. And, though I was very young when we lived there, I have visited Africa as a teenager and adult and witnessed the same realities Stone describes. That babies go blind due to their mother’s untreated venereal disease or that pregnant mothers have to work morning-till-night is heartbreaking.
SOURCE: Christian Post