U of T students fight to oust racist organization

Planned Parenthood’s own history came back to haunt it as the organization narrowly survived a student-led attempt to ban it from participating in activities at the University of Toronto.

The Student Administration Council voted 13-9 to continue ties with the organization which promotes birth control and is closely tied with the abortion industry.

Student representative Greg Todd, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, introduced the motion to break ties with Planned Parenthood claiming the group was founded by a racist, Margaret Sanger, and that it continues on with her supremacist policies.

Todd was supported by Rheba Estante, the women’s officer at SAC, who had been prominent in the mainline media in her disavowal of Planned Parenthood policies.

“Quite simply the founding principles were based on the theory of eugenics and racism,” she told council.

Estante later told The Interim she has no regrets about her campaign to keep Planned Parenthood off the U of T campus.

“One person called it a witch hunt but I’m glad we brought their attention to focus on it,” she said.  “people took it very seriously on both sides.”

Estante said she remains convinced of the importance of showing people Sanger’s policies and how they relate to the present-day Planned Parenthood.

“They say she (Sanger) was a woman of her time,” she said.  “She says the campaign, although it was portrayed as a pro-life effort, was purely waged on the basis of racism.

Estante’s battle against Planned Parenthood, which is a sacred cow for many feminists, has raised the ire of many of her peers.  It has damaged her relationship with some of the other board members including the SAC president, but she vows, “I’m not going to leave council.”

Todd said Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger used her policies to promote a “race of thoroughbreds.  She had said that she wanted more children from the fit, and less from the unfit.”

He said he was “very disappointed” the debate centred around abortion because the vote could have been different if it stayed on the racism issue.  The closeness of the vote didn’t cheer him either.

“I thought they would be overwhelmingly against Planned Parenthood,” he said.  The media coverage was “semi-fair” he said, but added he was “very offended” by the Planned Parenthood presentation to SAC board members.

The Planned Parenthood statement said the organization “can neither verify nor agree with everything that may have been said by Margaret Sanger, or has been attributed to her.  Knowledge, attitudes and philosophy have changed considerably, especially in the area of sexual health, since the early part of this century, Planned Parenthood of today does not necessarily endorse the opinions or practices of earlier leaders.”

The statement went on to say Sanger’s relevance lies in the “spirit and intent of her work.”