Letter to a Friend

This post was written by Andrew Harris as an open letter to a friend on Facebook. When I asked him if he would mind me posting it here, he was kind enough to say yes. If you want to find out more about this fellow, you can follow him on Twitter. The only editing here was the removal of the addressed person’s last name.


Hey there Mike. I’ll host this on my wall and simply mention you in it, and I’ll make it Friends of Friends visible so that your people can see it too. I could bait you all day, but I actually respect you, so I’ll just cut to the chase:

I’m concerned about you. When you make myopic appeals to emotion like “X supports baby murder!”, you hurt real people by supporting a culture of willful ignorance.

I’m not concerned by the fact of Sanger’s beliefs. She was a eugenicist. She was a eugenicist during the turn of the last century through the 1930s, when most non-Whites and women were held even by the most respectable and progressive humanist scholars of that time to be inferior to the White male population. You could take college classes on the subject, at that time! She was also adamant that eugenics should not mean forced sterilization, as she believed that the practice of limiting one’s reproduction should be strictly voluntary. Pointing out solely that she was a eugenicist, and using that to insinuate that she was thus a dark and sinister person with dark and sinister intentions, is completely intellectually dishonest given the discourse of the period.

I’m also not concerned by the actions of Planned Parenthood itself. Sanger lost control of Planned Parenthood itself in the early 1940s, and the organization shifted gradually through the 1960s to being one predominantly concerned with sexual health and access to medical care for the poor. As for Sanger herself, she was instrumental in legalizing contraception in the United States, and in obtaining funding for the development of the birth control pill. It has been suggested by multiple feminist scholars that the Pill was the single most empowering, most liberating, and most medically critical advancement for women in the 20th century, as it forced the dialogue of women’s health and sexual freedom into mainstream politics.

I’m also not concerned with the actions of organizations that oppose Planned Parenthood: the Catholic Church, who shield child molesters and whose leaders live in largesse in their literal city-state; issue groups such as Focus on the Family, who oppose basic civil rights and adoption, support bullying in schools, and regularly lie to the public regarding scientific facts on myriad topics, all the while contributing nothing back to the American public from their $150 million in revenues, and; the perpetrators of violence, arson, and kidnapping, against obstetricians and gynecologists who work at Planned Parenthood clinics, perpetrators who you tacitly endorse by your single-issue politicking.

I’m also not concerned with the scripture that you choose to follow. Jeremiah has the only concrete mention of any life or sanctity before birth, and even there it’s shady. Anything else is one of: total dogma, as it is with the Catholic Church; laughably loose interpretations of other premonitions of birth given in the Bible, or; simply personal speculation on what you may term as God’s Plan, a plan on which you shouldn’t be speculating in the first place. If you insist on citing religious foundation for your beliefs on any subject, I’d first have to point out that you really should brush up on your Leviticus. You obviously shave your face and cut your hair, you’ve almost certainly eaten pork, shrimp, and lobster, and half your wardrobe is probably a cotton-poly or similar fiber blend. Taken with John, you already have some serious explaining to do, and with Matthew, you’re in no position to point out the faults of others.

I’m concerned because I’m disappointed in you. Not for your religious beliefs; it’s great that you have something to believe. In the very end, I have only the cold embrace of the universe to comfort me in this life, beautiful as it tends to be. I’m disappointed in you because I know you had a good education, I know you know how to think critically about the things you say and the actions you take and their impacts on others, and yet I see you supporting regressive and dogmatic issue-politics at the expense of the world around you. You would ignore the preponderance of good works done by organizations like Planned Parenthood, and you would shill to others the writings of the proud, the fearful, and the otherwise uninformed. Let the poor get cancer and die, let women go uninformed about their bodies and their rights, let this world utterly burn, if it’ll save a couple fertilized masses of cells.

Planned Parenthood is a noble organization, one which helps the poor, which helps women, and which ultimately helps you and those you love. Real people have their lives enriched by their actions. And yet, you would seek to defame them, because of one particular, minuscule aspect of their operation that you have chosen to put above all else, an aspect that they themselves recommend as a last resort. Your rhetoric is shameful, as is that of your compatriots. I do hope that you find your way back to humanity soon.


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