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Secretary Clinton Praises Margaret Sanger: 'In awe of her'

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Secretary of State Clinton expresses admiration for Margaret Sanger and confusion about Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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By
California Catholic Daily (calcatholic.com/)
3/31/2009 (1 decade ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

MEXICO CITY (California Catholic Daily) - A day before receiving the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's highest honor - the "Margaret Sanger Award" - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, leaving a bouquet of white flowers "on behalf of the American people," and asking the basilica's rector, "Who painted it?"

In response to Clinton's question, basilica rector Msgr. Diego Monroy responded, "God!" The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted by Mary on the cloak of St. Juan Diego in 1531.

According to a report from Catholic News Agency, Msgr. Monroy received Clinton on Thursday, March 26, at 8:15 a.m. Msgr. Diego Monroy, reported CNA, took Clinton to the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been lowered from its usual altar for the occasion. After placing a bouquet of white flowers by the image, Clinton went to the quemador - the open-air area at the Basilica where the faithful light candles -- and lit a green candle. Leaving the basilica half an hour later, Clinton told some of the Mexicans gathered outside to greet her, "You have a marvelous virgin!"

The following day, Friday, March 27, Clinton was in Houston to receive the Margaret Sanger Award, named for the organization's founder, a noted eugenicist. Clinton, repeatedly interrupted by applause, cited several recent actions by the Obama Administration demonstrating that 'reproductive rights' are a crucial element of the new president's foreign policy.

"I was very proud when President Obama repealed the Mexico City policy," she said, according to a transcript of her remarks released by the State Department. "As a result, nongovernmental organizations overseas can once again use U.S. funding to provide the full range of family planning services so that women and their families can get access to the healthcare that they need. President Obama's decision on Mexico City... reflects a deep personal commitment to expanding opportunities for women...

"I am also pleased to tell you that we announced that the United States will once again fund family planning through the United Nations. We are going to fund a contribution of $50 million this fiscal year. That's a 130 percent increase over our last contribution, which was made in 2001. Congress has also approved the Administration's request for $545 million in bilateral assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs this year. And this is a significant increase over last year."

Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood and for whom the award Clinton received was named, was a proponent of eugenics, advocating selective breeding, sterilization and euthanasia. In 1932, Sanger urged "a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring."

In one of her first pamphlets, published in 1915, Sanger observed, "It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization. For upon the foundation of an enlightened and voluntary motherhood shall a future civilization emerge." Sanger also advocated government coercion to stop the "unfit" from bearing children, saying, "The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind."

Nonetheless, according to the State Department's transcript of Clinton's remark, the secretary of state said, "I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision... when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her."

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This article originally appeared in California Catholic Daily and is reprinted with permission.

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