Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg: Roe Would Help Eradicate Unwanted Populations

Catholic Exchange | Kathleen Gilbert | July 10, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems to have made a stunning admission in favor of cleansing America of unwanted populations by aborting them. In an interview with the New York Times, the judge said that Medicaid should cover abortions, and that she had originally expected that Roe v. Wade would facilitate such coverage in order to control the population of groups “that we don’t want to have too many of.”

The statement was made in the context of a discussion about the fact that abortions are not covered by Medicaid, and therefore are less available to poor women. “Reproductive choice has to be straightened out,” said Ginsburg, lamenting the fact that only women “of means” can easily access abortion.

“Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” Ginsburg told Emily Bazelon of the New York Times.

“So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.”

Harris v. McRae is a 1980 court decision that upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.

Justice Ginsburg’s remarks appear to align her expectations for abortion with those of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and other prominent members of the 20th century’s eugenics movement. Sanger and her eugenicist peers advocated the systematic use of contraception, sterilization, and abortion to reduce the numbers of poor, black, immigrant and disabled populations.

Ironically, the New York Times interview began as an exploration of Ginsburg’s thoughts on Supreme Court hopeful Sonia Sotomayor as she prepares for her confirmation hearings this month. Coverage of Sotomayor frequently emphasizes her success story as an underprivileged minority from the Bronx who rose to prominence at Princeton and Yale Law.

Ginsburg also defended a controversial statement repeated by Sotomayor in several speeches, where she stated she “would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

“I thought it was ridiculous for them to make a big deal out of that,” said Ginsburg. “Think of how many times you’ve said something that you didn’t get out quite right, and you would edit your statement if you could. I’m sure she meant no more than what I mean when I say: Yes, women bring a different life experience to the table. … That I’m a woman, that’s part of it, that I’m Jewish, that’s part of it, that I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I went to summer camp in the Adirondacks, all these things are part of me.”

The judge also praised the advent of earlier abortions with the wider distribution of the morning-after pill, saying “I think the side that wants to take the choice away from women and give it to the state, they’re fighting a losing battle. Time is on the side of change.”

When the Supreme Court upheld the partial-birth abortion ban in 2007, Ginsburg wrote a scathing dissent, saying the court’s reasoning “reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.”

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