Eugenics was wholly compatible with the progressive era's faith in science, the future, the regulatory potential of the state, and human perfectibility. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institution helped bankroll organizations that sought to advance eugenics. Among the more notable progressives to embrace the practice were the anarco-communist Emma Goldman, NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois, author H.G. Wells, political scientist Harold Laski, socialist reformers Sidney and Beatrice Webb, biology instructor/atheist Edward Aveling, economist John Maynard Keynes, playwright George Bernard Shaw, World Wildlife Fund founder Julian Huxley, sex theorist Havelock Ellis, and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Sanger, taking issue with the Church's view that eugenics was immoral because the souls of all people were equally valuable in the eyes of God, said:
“My own position is that the Catholic doctrine is illogical, not in accord with science, and definitely against the social welfare and race improvement. Assuming that God does want an increasing number of worshipers of the Catholic faith, does he also wantan increasing number of feeble-minded, insane, criminal, and diseased worshipers?”
In 1913, Brown University's progressive sociologist Lester Ward endorsed eugenics as a means of fighting “that modern scientific fatalism known as laissez-faire,” and of facilitating “the betterment of the human race.” “The end and the aim of the eugenicists cannot be reproached,” he expanded. “The race is far from perfect. Its condition is deplorable. Its improvement is entirely feasible, and in the highest degree desirable.”
Speaking on a related theme, the playwright George Bernard Shaw advocated the creation of a panel tasked with the duty of deciding who was, and who was not, worthy of being allowed to continue living. Said Shaw:
"You must all know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world, who are more trouble than they are worth. Just put them there and say Sir, or Madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence? If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat, if you’re not producing as much as you consume or perhaps a little more, then, clearly, we cannot use the organizations of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself."