Yale professor condemns school's history of eugenics, but supports abortion
Campus Reform spoke with Professor Daniel HoSang about his simultaneous support for abortion rights and opposition to eugenics.
Planned Parenthood's history is intertwined with eugenics, which HoSang acknowledged during the interview.
One Yale professor was inspired to create a class on eugenics, but holds abortion's legacy in that controversial scientific field to a different standard.
Daniel HoSang, associate professor of American studies at Yale University, guided three Yale undergraduates as they researched the school’s relationship with eugenics for September's “Legacies of Eugenics in New England Conference.” The students pointed out that the American Eugenics Society was founded on Yale’s campus in 1926 and noted its proximity to the office of former Yale President James Angell.
HoSang commented during the conference that “eugenics legitimated the dominant racial inequalities at the time, and naturalized the rule of elites.” According to student publication, Yale Daily News, HoSang “was so inspired by the summer work that he proposed to teach a seminar on the history of eugenics research in the spring of 2022.”
Despite his staunch opposition to eugenics in the past, HoSang appears to be supportive of abortion in the present.
While working as an ethnic studies professor at the University of Oregon, HoSang wrote a 2010 paper entitled “Reproductive Justice on the Ballot,” which considered voting measures that would bar minors from obtaining abortions without parental consent.
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“We explain how paradoxically, even though proponents seeking to limit abortion rights failed to pass any of these measures, they succeeded in influencing the contours which will guide future deliberations of these issues,” HoSang wrote.
In a 2011 separate article, HoSang argued that donors behind the anti-abortion ballot measures were using their contributions “to portray groups like Planned Parenthood as opportunistically preying on vulnerable girls and covering the crimes of ‘child predators.’”
James Silberman of Free The States — a Christian anti-abortion group that seeks to abolish abortion through state legislative efforts — noted that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was an ardent proponent of eugenics.
“Sanger brought American Eugenics Society member Lothrop Stoddard on as a founding board member of the ABCL and published Stoddard's writings in the BCR,” Silberman explained, adding that Stoddard was involved in White supremacist movements.
He said, “Stoddard was not only active in eugenics circles, but was one of the foremost white supremacists in the world. He was the Exalted Cyclops of the Massachusetts Ku Klux Klan, and his book — The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy — became a rallying cry of white supremacists worldwide and even influenced Adolph Hitler.”
“Stoddard was one of dozens of white supremacists Sanger brought on to lead her movement including C.C. Little, Madison Grant, Malcolm Bissell, and many others,” he continued. “White supremacy and eugenics were not incidental to Margaret Sanger's ‘reproductive justice’ movement. They were the point.”
Acknowledging Sanger’s involvement with eugenics, HoSang told Campus Reform that conservative policies such as merit-based education and “attacks on the social safety net” are also rooted in eugenics.
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“Margaret Sanger’s entanglements with eugenics have long been well-documented; much of this work has been led by feminist scholars exploring the history of population control movements,” HoSang said.
“More recently, these connections have been discovered by those on the Right, and weaponized to attack reproductive health programs and rights, taking a complex history and turning it into a sophomoric partisan talking point,” he added.
In both the 2010 and 2011 articles, HoSang expressed his academic commitment to reproductive justice and the political histories of that movement.