By Hilary White

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a speech to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Awards Gala, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she admires "Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision." Secretary Clinton said she is "really in awe of" Sanger for Sanger’s early work in Brooklyn, New York, "taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions."

Immediately following a trip to Mexico’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the pro-life movement, Mrs. Clinton travelled to Texas on March 28, where she was awarded the Margaret Sanger Award by Planned Parenthood.

She told the abortion movement representatives assembled there, "The 20th century reproductive rights movement, really embodied in the life and leadership of Margaret Sanger, was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race."

The sexual revolution brought about in part by Sanger’s promotion of contraception and abortion, Mrs. Clinton said, has "ushered in demographic and social changes that have brought us closer to gender equality than at any time."

Despite this, she said that the work of Planned Parenthood and the movement inspired by Sanger "is not done." Linking birth control and women’s "empowerment," she said, "women and girls are still the majority of the world’s poor, unschooled, unhealthy, and underfed."

"This is and has been for many years a matter of personal and professional importance to me, and I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women’s rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this administration."

Mrs. Clinton’s heroine, however, received quite different a treatment in a speech in Congress by Representative Chris Smith, who said on March 31, that Sanger was a racist eugenicist.

Addressing Mrs. Clinton, Smith said, "Are you kidding? In ‘awe’’ of Margaret Sanger, who said in 1921, ‘Eugenics … is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political, and social problems’. And who also said in 1922, ‘The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it’?"

To Mrs. Clinton’s assertion that Margaret Sanger’s work has been "transformational," Smith responded, "Mr. Speaker, transformational, yes. But not for the better if one happens to be poor, disenfranchised, weak, a person of color, vulnerable, or among the many so-called undesirables who Sanger would exclude and exterminate from the human race."

Comparing the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the abortion movement, Rep. Smith said that the former "has for five centuries brought a message of hope, faith, peace, reconciliation and protection for the weakest, most vulnerable among us."

"On the other hand, each year, Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood kills approximately 300,000 unborn baby girls and boys in their abortion clinics scattered throughout the United States."

Highlighting the racist nature of eugenics, Smith further quoted Sanger, who said in 1939, "We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social service backgrounds and with engaging personalities ... We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."

Mrs. Clinton has regained the confidence of the abortion movement in the US, after her attempts during the lead-up to the presidential race to present herself as a moderate on the issue. Support for her campaign to take the Democrat nomination wavered among hard-core abortion supporters when she called abortion a "tragedy."

Read the full text of Rep. Smith’s speech in Congress: www.lifesite.net/ldn/2009_docs/Smithspeech.pdf