Film About the Life of Margaret Sanger Sparks Controversy Among Film Critics

A Brief Look at the Real Life of Margaret Sanger and the Upcoming Hollywood Film

On October 16th, 1916, Margaret Sanger founded the first birth control clinic, which later became known as Planned Parenthood. She was a pioneer, fighting tirelessly for gender equality and women’s rights. However, because of other beliefs she had, she was also a very dangerous person.

Margaret Sanger’s mother, Anne Higgins, suffered from seven miscarriages and gave birth to eleven children. She died when Sanger was 19-years-old from tuberculosis, which led to Sanger’s move to New York City to become a nurse.

In New York City, the immigrant women Sanger cared for also experienced miscarriages and went through multiple pregnancies. These experiences can take a real toll on the body and lead Sanger to the conclusion that women should have access to resources necessary to avoid or terminate a pregnancy. Her beliefs and hard work lead to the founding of, what would come to be called, Planned Parenthood. Sanger might have had strong, positive feminist beliefs, but she also had dark, negative beliefs.

The Dark History of Planned Parenthood

Sanger also believed in eugenics and founded, what was referred to as, the Negro Project. At one point, she was quoted saying, “…Such human weeds clog up the path, drain up the energies and the resources of this little Earth. We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden..” Sanger fought for the development of birth control because she believed it was a resource that could be used to reduce the population of African Americans, the mentally handicapped, the homeless, etc. She also believed that it was an effective solution to decreasing poverty and high birth rates. Sanger even condemned charitable organizations, arguing that they were aiding the very population that society should be weeding out.

Sanger fought for the development of birth control because she believed it was a resource that could be used to reduce the population of African Americans, the mentally handicapped, the homeless, etc. She also believed that it was an effective solution to decreasing poverty and high birth rates. Sanger even condemned charitable organizations, arguing that they were aiding the very population that society should weed out.

While Margaret Sanger did a lot of good by establishing Planned Parenthood, she did it for the wrong reasons. Planned Parenthood’s Twitter post reads, “Sanger was committed to ensuring every woman could control her own life. But like most visionaries, she was flawed.”

The Film

Recently, it was announced that a film about Margaret Sanger’s life is currently in development. The filmmakers have made statements about the overall vision of the film; it will portray Sanger as a bold hero, brave fighter, and pioneer for women and gender equality. In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Erika Olde, one of the film’s producers, said, “Margaret’s story as an advocate who led the battle for birth control and eventually founding Planned Parenthood is so relevant given our recent election and today’s climate as we are once again forced to deal with basic human rights.”

The film, directed by Ron Howard, is based on the book by Ellen Feldman called, “Terrible Virtue.” The book tells the story of Sanger’s childhood, her work as a nurse, the risks she took, and the historical impact she had on society.

With abortion being such a controversial issue in modern society, it’s no surprise that Hollywood has decided to make a film about Margaret Sanger. However, the inaccurate portrayal of this historical figure has angered many people.

Criticism

Planned Parenthood is American’s number one abortion clinic but was founded on a eugenic and racist ideology. Many critics have said that the film disregards this and portrays Sanger as, “an icon and hero.”

One critic and filmmaker, Phelim McAleer, stated that this film will alienate people “They are destroying their business by not telling stories so many people want to see.”

Whether you’re angry about the film or not, there’s no question that Margaret Sanger was a disturbed person with many sick beliefs and opinions. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that Planned Parenthood holds that ideology in modern society. With that being said, the goal the filmmakers have is probably to make a film that conveys this perception. Margaret Sanger died in 1966 and Planned Parenthood has surpassed its founder. While she had flawed beliefs, it can be argued that they’re not relevant to the film’s story/objective.

On the other hand, this piece of historical fiction will be distributed to such a wide audience and, therefore, shouldn’t completely disregard the facts. This could possibly lead to a warped perception of the truth. If that happens, then the filmmakers are likely guilty of sensationalism.

Hollywood has a history of changing/omitting some of the facts when the film is based on a true story (Ex: In the Name of the Father…but, it’s still a really great movie). This is done to make it more “marketable” to audiences. Sometimes, there are practical reasons to this (Ex: Holes…also a really great movie), however, this can’t be applied in the film about Margaret Sanger.

To conclude, there’s no denying that this will be a controversial film. However, if the audience understands that this film is a piece of fiction, then it should be harmless and interesting to watch.