"Shall [woman in general] say to society that she will go on multiplying the misery that she herself has endured? Shall she go on breeding children who can only suffer and die? Rather, shall she not say that until society puts a higher value upon motherhood she will not be a mother? Shall she not sacrifice her mother instinct for the common good and say that until children are held as something better than commodities upon the labor market, she will bear no more? Shall she not give up her desire for even a small family, and say to society that until the world is made fit for children to live in, she will have no children at all?" (emphasis is mine)
It sounds so very ennobling, which makes the irony all that more poignant. If Margaret Sanger did truly care about impoverished and unhealthy women, her vision for a better world has failed miserably.
Margaret Sanger did little in her life to actually alleviate poverty. She basically said that, "You are poor, you are diseased, and life sucks for you. At least it doesn't have to suck for the kids you don't have!" Her idea of helping those children already born into poverty was to kill them, as she so succintly stated when she said that, "The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."
Artificial Contraception has not helped our society to value motherhood. One need only go to a few comment pages on blogs about birth control, the HHS mandate...or anywhere, really...to see this. Both women and men freak out at the mere idea of getting pregnant and having children. I once had a discussion with a guy who called children "little leaches" and was thankful that his girlfriend was naturally sterile. More mild stances go along the lines of: "We decided not to have children because we discovered we were happy without them." One Mom was told that she was greedy to want more than two children. I know many mothers of "large" families who have been considered crazy for having more than one or two children...like my aunt who, upon walking through the store with her four children, was accosted by a woman who asked, "Are they all yours?" and, upon receiving an affirmative answer, said sincerely, "I am so sorry". Perhaps the most telling recent example is this familiar piece internet rhetoric:
The very idea of motherhood is likened to drowning!
I think that it is safe to say that motherhood is not valued highly in our society. Women (and men) are not being self-sacrificing. They have not sacrificed their mothering instincts, their love of mothers and children, for the sake of some noble statement and higher good. They have smothered these "instincts". They are happy without them. The "common good" has become the personal good. Children are more of a commodity than they have ever been; commodities and children are things to be had when you want them and discarded when you don't. And that is just the contraceptive (and abortive) mentality. Sanger did nothing to right the wrongs she saw in the world. She has, if anything, made them worse. Those who praise her for allowing and feeding society's lack of value for motherhood and children misunderstand her efforts. Those who agree with her assessment of poverty and disease had best find a better visionary...one who actually saw problems and decided to fix them.