Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thought Roe v Wade Was About Eugenics: 3 Things You Need To Know

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thought Roe v Wade Was About Eugenics: 3 Things You Need To Know

Ruth Bader-Ginsburg
In this Nov. 30, 2018 file photo, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nominated by President Bill Clinton, sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Non-Hispanic Black women account for the greatest share of all U.S. abortions — 38 percent — despite the fact that Black people represent 13 percent of the population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

New York City’s Bureau of Vital Statistics reported almost as many Black abortions as live births in 2017 — the most recent year for which there was data — according to a July 2020 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993. She caused a stir in 2009 when she talked about abortion, eugenics and Roe v. Wade.

The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe V. Wade ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

In 1992, Ron Weddington, co-counsel in the Roe vs. Wade case, wrote a letter to President-elect Bill Clinton, begging him to rush RU-486 — a.k.a. “the abortion pill” — to market as quickly as possible. “(Y)ou can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country,” Weddington insisted, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Weddington offered a clue about who, in particular, he had in mind, Chicago Tribune reported: “For every Jesse Jackson who has fought his way out of the poverty of a large family, there are millions mired in poverty, drugs and crime.”

Justice Ginsburg said in 2009 that she thought Roe v. Wade was about eugenics. Here are three things you need to know.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comment about eugenics

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a New York Times Magazine interview in 2009, “Frankly I had thought that at the time (Roe vs. Wade) was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

The comment was in the context of Medicaid funding for abortion, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged inferior or promoting those judged superior.

The eugenics movement became associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many war criminals at the Nuremberg trials of 1945 to 1946 tried to justify their crimes by claiming there was little difference between Nazi eugenics programs and U.S. eugenics programs.

Justice Ginsburg later clarified her comments about Roe v. Wade and eugenics. She said she wasn’t endorsing the eugenic motivation she ascribed to Roe—just pointing to concerns about overpopulation at the time, Wall Street Journal reported.

Racist Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger promoted eugenics

Ginsburg was right about abortion havings deep roots in the historic effort to “weed out” undesired groups, Jonah Goldberg wrote in a column for the Chicago Tribune in July, 2009. “For instance, Margaret Sanger, the revered feminist and founder of Planned Parenthood, was a racist eugenicist of the first order.”

Sanger’s name was removed in 2020 from the Manhattan Planned Parenthood clinic because her “racist legacy” and “deep belief in eugenic ideology” can no longer be denied, according to a WSJ opinion piece.

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” wrote Karen Seltzer, the Planned Parenthood chapter chairwoman.

Planned Parenthood is a provider of reproductive health care and claims that one in five American women has chosen it for health care at least once in her life.

Justice Clarence Thomas’s comments about eugenics

The Supreme Court in 2019 declined to weigh in on an Indiana abortion law that prohibits women from terminating pregnancies on the basis of a fetus’s sex, race or disability diagnosis. The portion of the law in question prevented a fetal abnormality from being the only reason a woman can haveo an abortion in the state.

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Justice Clarence Thomas compared abortions prompted by fetal abnormalities to eugenics — the practice of selective breeding intended to improve a population’s genetics, Time reported.

“This law and other laws like it promote a State’s compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas wrote in his opinion that medical advancements in maternal healthcare are making the topic of eugenics more pressing.

“Technological advances have only heightened the eugenic potential for abortion, as abortion can now be used to eliminate children with unwanted characteristics, such as a particular sex or disability,” he wrote. “Given the potential for abortion to become a tool of eugenic manipulation, the court will soon need to confront the constitutionality of laws like Indiana’s.”

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