Fact Check

Did Bill Gates' Father 'Run' Planned Parenthood and Teach His Son to Spread the 'Gospel' of Eugenics?

Conspiratorial social media posts baselessly linked the philanthropist to eugenics.

Published Jan. 6, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20:  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates speaks speaks at Goalkeepers 2017, at Jazz at Lincoln Center on September 20, 2017 in New York City.  Goalkeepers is organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to highlight progress against global poverty and disease, showcase solutions to help advance the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals) and foster bold leadership to help accelerate the path to a more prosperous, healthy and just future.  (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) ( Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images
Bill Gates' father "ran" Planned Parenthood and taught his son to spread the "gospel of eugenics."
What's True

Bill Gates father, William Gates Sr., worked on the board of Planned Parenthood, along with other charities.

What's False

The claims that the elder Gates supported the idea of eugenics appears to be nothing more than a wild assumption.

Throughout late 2020, various social media users worked to spread an unfounded rumor that Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates' father "ran" the reproductive health non-profit Planned Parenthood and taught his son "to spread the gospel of eugenics."

Some shared a post from an apocalyptic blog called Tricentennial, which carried the incendiary headline, "BILL GATES’ FATHER RAN PLANNED PARENTHOOD, HIS MOTHER CREATED MICROSOFT, TOGETHER THEY TRAINED THEIR SON TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL OF EUGENICS."

It's no secret that Gates' father, William Gates Sr., worked on the board of Planned Parenthood. A prominent attorney in the Pacific Northwest, the elder Gates was also a philanthropist and an active member of his community. When he passed away in September 2020, The New York Times stated in his obituary:

Mr. Gates co-founded what became Preston, Gates & Ellis, a leading Seattle law firm, in 1964, and was a partner until 1998. (The firm is now called K&L Gates.) He was president of the Seattle/King County Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association and a director of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the King County United Way and Planned Parenthood. In 1995, he founded the Technology Alliance to expand jobs in the field. He also served 15 years as a regent of the University of Washington.

The "eugenics" comment comes from an angle of attack used by anti-abortion activists, who point to the fact that Planned Parenthood's founder Margaret Sanger, who died in 1966, had links to the eugenics movement. Sanger's acceptance of eugenics ideas has been used by opponents to attack the modern-day Planned Parenthood organization, falsely claiming it was founded to eliminate the Black community and continues to do so.

Unsurprisingly, no evidence has been offered supporting the claim that the elder Gates embraced eugenics. It appears to be nothing more than a wild assumption based on Gates' philanthropic activities on the Planned Parenthood board.

The younger Bill Gates, not his mother, founded Microsoft in 1975 with his friend Paul Allen.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more

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