Birth Control conspiracy
January 28, 2006 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Planned Parenthood wanted to put birth control in the water supply.

This latest surprizing piece of news is from a very fundy old friend.

Does any one have ANY idea where she got this information? Articles? Conspiracy websites? Anything?

I have had no luck Googling for it.
posted by small_ruminant to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Google Communist flouride.
posted by orthogonality at 1:15 PM on January 28, 2006

Did you try googling planned parenthood water supply? First hit talks about this f-ing bizarre idea. Anyone have more info?
posted by Xalf at 1:16 PM on January 28, 2006

Look at the first Google result for 'planned parenthood water supply'. The source doesn't look terribly reliable but it does cite "an article published in Planned Parenthood's own Family Planning Perspectives October 1970, based on a memorandum by Planned Parenthood leader Frederick S. Jaffe to Bernard Berelson March 11, 1969," which should be easy enough to find.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2006

Not new. Usually attributed to "the government" or "the man" rather than Planned Parenthood. Used to come out of the mouths of people who also warned you about the dangers of not wearing your tinfoil -- which is why so many of the Google sources are mocking the statement.

I'm not really shocked that some fundies are repurposing it to "look at those damn libruls."
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:19 PM on January 28, 2006

It's not Planned Parenthood, but the idea as implemented by the government is prominent in Thomas M. Disch's 1973 novel 334.

It might be a zeitgeist of the Soylent Green/Green Revolution years. Apocalyptic thoughts are often remixed into right-wing conspiracy theories.
posted by Rothko at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2006

Well, the closest thing I found was a 1993 pro-life article that refers to some 1970 Planned Parenthood Perspectives article, but doesn't quote it explicitly. I can't find the original journal, nor can I find mention of this on (which would be my first choice for looking up such matters).

Suffice to say, I can't imagine that this would be in any way feasible.
posted by Mercaptan at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2006

This rumor may have its roots in Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's advocacy of certain aspects of eugenics ( improvement of human hereditary traits through social intervention). While Sanger's views were not as extreme as some people seem to think, they were extreme nonetheless.

One particularly outrageous quote from Sanger comes from her advocacy of "[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." Eek.

While she generally advocated for a woman's right to choose whether to have children (primarily through birth control), she did advocate the mandatory sterilization or segregation of people with "negative" genetic traits, including mental retardation, etc.

Some claims against her are clearly overblown. Others perhaps not so much, though I think that our historical perspective gives us a different view of her ideas than we may have had at the time.

The Wikipedia article on her is quite interesting, actually.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:47 PM on January 28, 2006

PubMed has this citation:
Fam Plann Perspect. 1970 Jun;2(3):29.

Contraception 1984: putting something in the water supply.

Djerassi C.

PMID: 5538306 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

posted by Biblio at 2:24 PM on January 28, 2006

" Sunscreens may contain one or more of a number of different active compounds to block out the suns rays, such as OMC (Octyl Methoxycinnamate), Benzophenone, Oxybenzene, Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and talc, all of which should be listed on the packaging. OMC has been found to be toxic and increases in toxicity as it is exposed to sunlight. Both OMC and Oxybenzene are suspected endocrine disruptors" [1]

If I could offer you only one tip for mass contraception, sunscreen would be IT.
posted by atrazine at 2:46 PM on January 28, 2006

While I couldn't be bothered to dig very deep, sights like The American Life League's STOPP are dedicated to trying to shut Planned Parenthood down, and are chock full of the kind of misinformed bull shit like you describe.
posted by kimdog at 3:20 PM on January 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks. I was Googling for the wrong thing. (Isn't there some saying that you have to know 95% of the answer in order to ask the right question?)

I found this pdf that seems to be the source. Whether it's legit or not I don't know, but fundies are quoting it right and left. (If it IS real then no wonder!)

I didn't argue with my friend because Planned Parenthood does indeed have a spotty record, and I wouldn't put it past one of their more extreme members to have said such a stupid thing.

Anecdotally, when I volunteered as an escort for Planned Parenthood in Bloomington, IN the people I was working with were hateful, petty, classist, racist, and intolerant. The people protesting against Planned Parenthood were incredibly ignorant and poor, (hillbilly to put it perjoratively) but they were very kind and well-intentioned in their own way. I am still very pro-choice, but I am no longer very pro-Planned Parenthood, though I support them financially sometimes because there doesn't seem to be anyone else out there fighting the pro-choice fight.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:24 PM on January 28, 2006

That pdf is a hoax, no question. The dead giveaway is the line "encourage women to work."

Anyone who thinks women don't work is insane (and could never get away with that idea at PP). Women do a significant majority of the world's work and receive a significant minority of the world's wages because their labor usually is directed towards the informal sector, such as domestic labor. This is why GDP goes down when a man marries his housekeeper.

Any feminist in 1969 would have written "Encourage women to join the workforce" or "Encourage women to work outside the home."
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:56 PM on January 28, 2006

I'm becoming obsessed with nailing this down. My reference librarian senses are tingling. The memo supposedly in that pdf is referenced here, in a congressional report, which means it is probably available somewhere.
posted by Biblio at 5:34 PM on January 28, 2006

Response by poster: Ooo, Biblio- I was hoping someone would say that!
posted by small_ruminant at 6:28 PM on January 28, 2006

I suspect that were this report to be found, it would not be what people think. The pdf, of which I'm suspicious, appears to be an appendix of an article that documents various proposed methods of fertility reduction. I doubt the author promotes most of what is listed, if they are listed at all, and probably includes them (if they are included) to make some point which would be hard to predict without seeing the whole piece.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:14 PM on January 28, 2006

There is talk of residual birth control hormones seeping into the ecosystem, thus back into the food chain and drinking water. Water treatment plants apparently don't filter out the hormones so well, plus (ick) leakage from sewage.

As far as I know, no one serious has ever claimed this was intentional. It seems like rather misplaced fundy propaganda. If the master plan to slip birth control into the water supply succeeded, how would PP be able to keep abortion numbers high?
posted by ontic at 9:38 PM on January 28, 2006

Ok, I checked it out and found a copy of the article and an original of that table. It's legit, but completely misrepresented. Basically, people involved with Planned Parenthood as well as other population organizations wrote about the various propositions for population control floating around at that time and ranked them according to feasbility, impact, ethics etc. Never once were these ideas supported by Planned Parenthood as an organization. I wasn't able to save copies of the articles, but I intend to go back to the library where I access them and do enough research to write something to put up on the web.
posted by Biblio at 8:13 PM on January 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That would be wonderful! And maybe I'll send it in to Snopes too. I emailed them and asked them to look into it. Who knows if they really will.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2006

Here is the an article that might be of interest (perhaps the one Biblio mentioned):
Family Planning Perspectives June 1970
3/4 the way down the first paragraph mentions the water supply.
posted by mechkit at 7:07 AM on March 8, 2006

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