Monday, September 20, 2010

Two very different women

The abortion/contraception/IVF discussion over at Sew's blog today got me thinking. In the comment section, Miss Gwen brought up Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who dedicated her life to promoting birth control.

Here's part of what Miss Gwen said to Sew:
I know you probably have much disdain for Margaret Sanger (I'm not saying she's perfect) but one of the reasons birth control came about was because of her observations and experiences in the slums of NY working amongst immigrant and poor families where complications from pregnancy and mother fatality as well as infant fatality were rampant problems. The ability to plan/anticipate for children as well as be a healthful woman was ground breaking.
Immediately, I thought of another woman who worked amongst the poor -- the poorest of the poor, in fact. The woman who chose to serve in one of the worst slums in the world, who went into the filthy streets to pick up the cast-offs dying alone in the gutter: Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Both Mother Teresa and Sanger observed the poor and saw much suffering. And yet, the two women couldn't be more different. Let me count the ways....

  • Mother Teresa believed that every human life has infinite, intrinsic value and is created by a loving Father to love and be loved.
  • Margaret Sanger believed that some people are "human weeds" and "unfit" and thus need to be culled. 

  • Mother Teresa embraced every race of people equally as children of God.
  • Margaret Sanger was a known racist whose legacy is built on the desire to limit the "reckless breeding" of black people and immigrants.

  • Mother Teresa tenderly cared for the physically handicapped and mentally challenged.
  • Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who advocated the elimination of those who have physical or mental problems.

  • Mother Teresa was a consecrated virgin, pure of heart and totally faithful to her beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ.
  • Margaret Sanger was a serial adulterer who openly proclaimed that sex for sport and pleasure trumped the marriage vow any day.

  • Mother Teresa was truly humble, and she radiated joy and peace to all who came in contact with her.
  • Margaret Sanger was a proud, troubled, selfish elitist who was never at peace.

  • Mother Teresa's idea of a "healthful woman" is a woman whose body is working as it was designed to work. "Health" includes educating a woman on the signs of her own fertility and providing safe, sanitary conditions for childbirth. Mother Teresa knew that women are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God, that there is nothing wrong with the way a woman's body functions, and that we don't need to be chemically neutered or surgically mutilated to be "healthy."
  • Margaret Sanger's idea of a "healthful woman" is a woman on synthetic hormones/steroids which are accompanied by harmful and even deadly side effects. "Health" means derailing a working bodily function so that it does something completely unnatural and against the body's own design. In the case of sterilization, "health" means mutilating healthy organs so that they no longer work as intended.

  • Every bit of Mother Teresa's care for the poor, sick and dying was done for Jesus Christ, her Beloved. Her heroic life was lived in service to God.
  • Margaret Sanger worked under the slogan of "no gods, no masters." Sanger served herself alone.

  • Mother Teresa's legacy is the thousands of joyful, smiling sisters in her Missionaries of Charity order who continue her work to this day, loving and caring for the poorest of the poor in 133 countries around the globe. Her legacy has blessed the lives of untold millions.
  • Margaret Sanger's legacy is Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in America with tentacles all around the world. Her legacy has ended the lives of untold millions.

Mother Teresa loved the poor, Margaret Sanger wanted to eliminate the poor. I don't know about you, but if I'm a poor person (or any person!), I'll cast my lot with Mother Teresa any day.

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!

(Read the follow-up post here.)


  1. Excellente! This needs to be part of every college course.

  2. Leila, I absolutely love this post. Mother Teresa is very dear to my heart, as I've worked with her sisters in Rome and Mexico. They truly radiate joy and love. I would rather live my life like them than what Ms promoted ANY DAY!

  3. I loved your comparison on Sew's blog & here because it was exactly right. Two women who saw similar problems, but their approach, desire, intentions were entirely opposite.

  4. Wonderful! I LOVE this...Thank you for writing it!

  5. OH, Leila... this is awesome.

    I'm saving this one :)

  6. First, I admire the work of Mother Teresa. That said, she also has come under criticism for the care she provided (or didn't provide) to people.

    Second, has anyone here read "Pivot of Civilization" (Sanger's book) or studied the Eugenics movement in this country during the early 20th Century? Because there seems to be some misguided ideas about both and connections between Sanger and Eugenics.

  7. Miss Gwen, I have read the criticisms about Mother Teresa. As soon as the criticizers have served and loved as many destitute as Mother T and her sisters, I think then they will have moral authority to call her out. The criticisms are public record, as are her good deeds. Those who spent time serving the poor with her have written volumes, and I guess we all can decide for ourselves what is the truer portrait of Mother T.

    As for Sanger and eugenics....Were my bullet points in error? If so, can you explain? I encourage you to write a blog post explaining why her detractors are misguided. Some of your own bullet points, a brief overview perhaps. I would truly appreciate it. I can't find time to shower, much less read an entire book these days. ;)

    Do you admire Sanger more than you admire Mother Teresa? Just curious.

  8. Hi there,

    I am working on a post but it probably won't be ready till tomorrow.

    I'm torn as to whether I admire one woman more than the other. Against much protest, they both tended to people no one else cared about.

  9. Miss Gwen, another thought:

    Mother Teresa is on track to be canonized a saint. One of the great things about this official process is how thorough it is. Someone will be appointed "devil's advocate" throughout the process to uncover and present any evidence that would work against the cause of her canonization. (That is where the term "devil's advocate" actually comes from.) So, her life will be scrutinized, warts and all, nothing held back.

    I feel certain that when that laborious, intensive exposition is complete, Mother Teresa will be numbered among the saints. I am also fairly certain that Margaret Sanger's life would not fare as well even under a much lighter examination.

  10. Leila,

    That's really interesting (I mean it) about the canonization process for sainthood. I didn't know that's where "devil's advocate" comes from. Post more about that!

    I doubt Margaret Sanger would ever be considered for sainthood as she believed in birth control which Catholic Church doctrine (did I get that right? doctrine?) teaches goes against God's intentions for procreation.

  11. Gwen, I look forward to it, thank you! "Tended to"... I am not sure what your definition is, but I am pretty sure Maggie Sanger's idea of "tending to" the poor is different from what Mother Teresa did. :)

  12. Gwen, I will put that on my list of things to post about... The canonization process is astounding. I have even seen NBC and ABC news shows about explaining it (and walking the viewer through particular cases), and they did a great job.

    You did get that right, about doctrine! :) It's not just Maggie's stance for birth control that would keep her from saintly status, as you can imagine. She had a host of other beliefs and behaviors that stand in stark contrast to the Faith. This was one very troubled soul.

  13. Well said! Now I have some great comebacks! :)

  14. So true, so true. And even though every.single.commercial for bcp (and vaginal ring, implant, etc.) states it, people are still SO in denial that these chemicals can KILL them! How is that healthy??!

  15. By your fruits you shall know them... Great post!

  16. Miss G,

    I guess I'm confused...Do you think that those that suffer are better off dead? They serve no purpose, but waste in the streets so get rid of them?

  17. No Sew, absolutely not. And I don't think Mother Teresa or Margaret Sanger did either.

  18. Well, we can be certain that Mother Teresa didn't.

  19. Wow. I don't mean to butt in here, but I am sensing a bit of bias against Sanger. I do have a few questions as to some of your points, Leila. I'm sorry if I word my questions bluntly--I don't mean to offend, but I haven't got much time right now and I am simply curious.
    You say "Mother Teresa was truly humble and radiated joy" etc while Sanger was "proud, troubled selfish and never at peace." I thought both Mother Teresa and Sanger did much for others, especially the poor--Mother Teresa through her physical care, and Sanger through her distribution of contraception. Nowadays, because so many people believe in sex before marriage, it is wiser to be prepared for it than to expect it never to happen. Why would Sanger have been considered selfish if she did this?
    You also say that Sanger worked for herself alone. I think we can both see that isn't true. If you think it is, please explain to me how so.
    And although I do agree with you on the "don't-kill-unborn-children" idea, by law, a child is merely a fetus until out of the womb, at which time it becomes a baby. However, studies show that in countries where abortion was illegal and considered bad, both the amount of crime and the infant mortality rate went up exponentially. Abortion can only happen before a certain point in pregnancy. I believe that abortion is the right choice in some situations, such as certain cases of teen pregnancy. Don't you agree it is better for both mother and embryo to lose the fetus and continue living as a teenager than it is to be possibly disowned, homeless, and susceptible to disease? Please help me to understand your point of view.

  20. Hi Sophie! I think I will do a whole post answering your questions. Stay tuned! :)

  21. I just want to thank my 16 year old mother, who had a choice, I was born after roe v. wade. She sure met all of your criteria as to why I should have been brutally murdered and taken from the safe haven of her womb where God had put me. Is it best that I should not be here. Is it best that this living 31 year old fetus should have been torn from her mothers womb? Is it best? Can you tell this to my mothers face, please, I beg you. Please tell her that the daughter she fought tooth and nail for and did the very best she could with what she had that has now turned into a damn good productive part of society that she loves very much. Please tell her I would have been better off dead. Please, I beg you.

    I want to thank my mother for going through hell and back so this FETUS which is me who is carrying a 24 week fetus could be born and live life. Is that not the most beautiful thing....I can comprehend though I did not loose my teenage years by pregnancy, they were loss by other things that we won't speak of her, she gave up some fleeting years of being a teenager. Grant it, they were hard, I lived with her, I saw her cry. But do you think for one instance that she would have thought it better if her daughter were dead. Was I not worth her sacrifice? I'm a living human being that has a soul and a purpose. Pleasea tell me I was better off dead. Please tell me I beg you.

    There are things she went through that I will never know, there is suffering that she went through that I will never know, there are times when I bet she herself wanted to die, but SHE did not kill me because she got pregnant at a young age.

    Thank you Mom for taking responsibility of your actions so that I was not a product of your choice. I have grown into a woman that has a purpose to fulfill and I'm happy I'm here.

    Thanks Mom for allowing me to live! And Sophie, I'm sure you can thank your mother for allowing you to live so that you too can have a choice. Thank God she didn't snuff you out.

  22. I really enjoyed this post. You made so many good points! I shall store your words away in my arsenal of apologetics:)

  23. Leila-- GREAT post. Bless you for shining the light of TRUTH and REASON in our culture of death.

  24. Keep posting on these excellent topics, Leila!

  25. Sophie: which of these these Margaret Sanger quotes do you think best exemplify her selflessness and humanitarianism:

    -----"The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." Women and the New Race

    -----"...human weeds,' 'reckless breeders,' 'spawning... human beings who never should have been born." Pivot of Civilization, referring to immigrants and poor people.

    -----"More children from the fit, less from the unfit -- that is the chief aim of birth control." Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12.

    -----"The marriage bed is the most degenerating influence in the social order." Birth Control in America, p. 23

    Wow! Can't you just feel the love and compassion pouring out from this amazing woman? But wait! There's more!!

    -----“Every feeble-minded girl or woman of this hereditary type should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children … we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble minded.”

    -----“We are failing to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying . . . a dead weight of human waste . . .an ever-increasing spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.”

    -----“The third group [of society] are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequences of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers. Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped.”

    -----"I accepted an invitation to talk to the women's branch of the Ku Klux Klan...I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses...I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak...In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered." Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography, p. 366.

  26. Wow.. thank you for this beautiful comparison!!!!! You could not have illustrated this more perfectly. Our world desperately needs to understand the two completely opposite world views that these women have offered. Many people have been taken in, and continue to be formed by the distortions of a Sangerized society - if they weren't, more people would be appalled that we are already systematically eliminated 90% of certain groups of 'unwanteds'. Those Down syndrome babies are just as deserving and demanding of unconditional love as our perfect babies next door..

    Sorry.. my own tangent :)

    Thank you again Leila, you are so adept at putting to words some of the important things that others of us are not quite so great at articulating!

    (wow.. my longest comment ever? :P)

  27. Never has a better post been written. Thank you.

  28. I am really enjoying the comments and wisdom. Thank you all!

    Gwen, do you really not see that Maggie's and Mother Teresa's worldviews are irreconcilable, and that, morally, they are polar opposites?

  29. Ken, thank you. I'd love to hear Sophie's response.

    Brit, agreed! The wholesale slaughter of Down's babies is as big a shame on this nation as I can think of.

  30. Leila, I find it so funny that you have started calling her Maggie. hahahaha laughing out loud. :)

  31. Megan, ha! Yes, she is Maggie to me. :) You know, they give out the "Maggie Awards" in her honor. Hillary Clinton received a Maggie. Isn't that sick? I wouldn't want to receive anything in her name!

  32. Sophie, don't run and hide now. I'm waiting on an answer as to if you think my life is justifiable because I was born to a 16 year old mother. Coward, you must stand up for what you preach and tell me if you think I should have or still think I should die. Because if you think I should have died 31 years ago, I would assume you think I'm still society's problem and should die today.

    Please stand up for what you believe in and tell me now what you think.

  33. Wow, I had no idea that they gave out Maggie awards. That is just sick! I too would be appalled to be the recipient. :(

  34. Wonderfully reflection and excellently stated. This was truly a blessing for my day.

  35. Great Ken! And let's take some of the questionable things Mother Teresa said and did out of context too and form opinions on that as well!

    In 1981 Mother Teresa journeyed to Haiti, to accept that nation's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur. She received it from the Duvalier family, and made a glowing speech in which she said that dictator "Baby Doc" and his wife Michele not only loved the poor, but were loved by the poor in return.

    In 1990 she made a trip to Albania, then the most oppressive of the Balkan Stalinist states, and laid a wreath on the grave of the dictator Enver Hoxha as well as on the irredentist monument to "Mother Albania". She was herself of Albanian descent (born in Skopje, Macedonia), but many Albanians were shocked by her embrace of Hoxha's widow and her silence on human rights.

    In 1992 she intervened with a court in Los Angeles, which was about to sentence Charles Keating, the biggest fraud and embezzler in American history. His S & L racket stole a total of $252 million, mainly from small and poor depositors. A strong Catholic and right-wing campaigner against pornography in his spare time, Keating gave Mother Teresa $1,250,000 in cash and the use of a private jet, in return for which she gave him many useful endorsements, including a character reference to the court. The court had asked Mother Teresa to return Keating's donations, which may well have been stolen, but she never replied to the request.

  36. I invite everyone to head to Miss Gwen's blog if you are interested in a defense of Sanger's eugenics philosophy.

    (The Keating connection is always of interest to me, as he attended the same parish I did after he was released from prison, and I know the family.)

    More soon.... Ahhh, I wish I could blog all day, don't you??? (I'm being serious.)

  37. oh my heart race is going 90 to nothing right now reading this!!!!!!!!!!!! Think of all the infertile women who would not have their babies right now were it not for teenage mothers. As Sew also said, she would not be here, this is completely ludicrous. I need to calm myself

  38. Hi, Sew. I'm sorry that it took me so long to respond to the comment you addressed to me. It’s just that I haven’t had a lot of free time on my hands lately, and I have many other things that take a priority over the internet right now.
    I'm going to try to treat this as respectfully as possible. I just want to tell you that I mean, nor have I ever meant any disrespect when I state my opinions. It is clear that some of them were misinterpreted by you, and I will try to clarify my intended meaning.
    Again, I would like to say that I did not mean to offend. As I clearly stated in my first comment, I believe that abortion is the right choice in SOME situations, such as CERTAIN cases of teen pregnancy. There are, unfortunately, some families out there who would disown a child for underage pregnancy, simply throw them out into the street and pretend they never existed. As I stated, SOME cases.
    I am so sorry that you thought I was targeting children of teen mothers when I said that, because I was not. I had no idea your mother gave birth at 16, and I apologize for the offence I have clearly caused you. Please believe me when I say, I am truly sorry. It must have been terrible your mother to go through those things. I support the decision of teen mothers who choose keep their children as much as I support the decision (most of the time) for them to abort the pregnancy. I know life can be horribly rough for teen mothers, and was in no way insinuating that you should not have been born. I am sure you are a wonderful mother, wife and friend to many.
    No, I don’t think you should have died 31 years ago. Nor do I think you deserve to die today. In fact, please feel free to tell your mother that I fully support her decision not to abort. I do thank my mother (and, as a matter of fact, HAVE thanked her many times,) for bringing me into existence. I appreciate it very much! ;)
    I’m sensing the sarcasm in your first comment and I just want to say I do not appreciate it. The situations in which I said I would support abortion may not apply to your mother at all, anyways. You have done nothing wrong (that I know of). I never said that anyone deserved to die. You have twisted my words to make my opinion seem different. Although this situation applied to you, that does not mean it is about you.
    I don’t even know what to tell you after your second comment. Actually, I really don’t want to post a response. I am severely offended by your condescending attitude and calling me a coward. Do you think it takes a coward to go here, to this blog, a place where no one seems to share her opinions, and stand up for what she believes? Because that’s what I’m doing, right now. In case you haven’t noticed, I AM standing up for what I believe in.
    I just did.

  39. Sophie, I would like to apologize for my nastiness, in my 2nd comment, I had a lot going on over at my blog, and that was no reason to come over here and take it out on you. For that I am sorry.

    Your comment did hit me in an emotional spot and I wasn't being sarcastic in my first comment, but I definitely was in my second one. One would think I would be able to filter even on the keyboard. :) I'm working on that. ;)

    There are many sides to my mothers story that were sad. She was disowned, named called, thrown out, beaten and too many other things to name here since it isn't my story I won't share all the goreyness of the details. She ended up bringing 3 children to life and still chose not to abort them, when by her circumstances she very well could. They were all not good situations.

    But why should circumstances of a situation be the deciding factor? If you & I are so happy to be alive, even in the midst of great suffering or not, born to teenage mothers, or not, are we the only ones that are happy to be alive?

    I am sorry for taking your comment so personally, but being the product of a teen mother and even 2 of my brothers are a product of a teen mother. I was unable to separate it. Please accept my apology, I really thought you were just going to comment and leave. Sorry for assuming. :)

  40. God Bless Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity order.
    Today they work in over 100 countries caring for the disabled and sick orphans.


PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest.