Five years ago, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the most fascinating thing in a candid interview with Sunday New York Times Magazine reporter Emily Bazelon:
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.
Excuse me? Populations that we don’t want to have too many of? Eugenics doesn’t really sound any better — indeed, it sounds a great deal worse — when it’s coming from a media-beloved Supreme Court Justice. My favorite part of the interview was that Bazelon didn’t even pause for a second. Just went on to her next question. Bazelon later said, unconvincingly, that she thought Ginsburg was just saying that other people had wanted Roe because they were eugenicists, or something.
People who aren’t as gung-ho about the snuffing out of young life as your typical mainstream media journalist noted this interview and discussed the deep ties of abortion and birth control to the progressive eugenics movement. Jonah Goldberg reminded us of the long-forgotten fact of Margaret Sanger’s racist eugenics along with Oliver Wendell Holmes’ passion for “sterilizing imbeciles.” Goldberg noted that some more recent liberals have been outspoken about the need to encourage pregnant women to “get rid of the thing before it turns into a monster.” How about this chilling little snippet:
In 1992, Ron Weddington, co-counsel in the Roe v. Wade case, wrote a letter to President-elect Clinton, imploring 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. All the president had to do was make abortion cheap and easy for the populations we don’t want. “It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it. . . . Think of all the poverty, crime and misery . . . and then add 30 million unwanted babies to the scenario. We lost a lot of ground during the Reagan-Bush religious orgy. We don’t have a lot of time left.” Weddington offered a clue about who, in particular, he had in mind: “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.” Ah, right. Jesse Jackson. Got it.
Michael Gerson was also deeply worried by the Bazelon interview of Ginsburg. He pointed out how clearly Ginsburg was calling for certain “populations” to be reduced and reminded readers of something many in the media aren’t so concerned about — the dignity of all humans, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
It is estimated that the Hyde Amendment limiting Medicaid abortions has saved 1 million lives since its passage in 1976 — some, no doubt, became criminals and some, perhaps, lawyers and judges. It is a defining question for modern liberalism: Are these men and women “populations that we don’t want to have too many of” or are they citizens worthy of justice and capable of contribution?
I thought of all this when I read through another interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You know how you have friends who complain about a super-old relative who just starts spouting racist stuff and can’t be quieted down? This is what interviews with Ginsburg remind me of. Also it doesn’t help that she keeps falling asleep during important speeches and oral arguments and just doesn’t care. I’m not saying she’s just like a crazy old racist great-aunt who keeps embarrassing us and we can’t do anything about it, but that’s basically what I’m saying.
Anyway, in an interview with Elle, she says her kid and grandkid don’t get how awful it would be to not have legal approval for snuffing out one’s growing baby in the womb. And then when she’s trying to say that protections for unborn children hurt poor women more than wealthy women since wealthy women can just pay the baby away, she lets that old eugenics thing slip again:
It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.
I get that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of the most important champions of abortion and that those people who think people should be able to end some lives after they’ve begun just love her to pieces. And I get that the birth control and abortion rights movements have always had deep ties to eugenics, population control, and master race-type stuff. I get all that.
But it’s all kind of unseemly, no? It would be one thing if she were talking about the importance of promoting birth among all groups of people as a way of affirming the sacredness of life or what not, but her long-standing focus on how some “populations” shouldn’t be encouraged to have babies and should have subsidized abortion is beyond creepy. We get it, RBG, your social circles think life would be so much better if you didn’t have to deal with those awful poor people and their unapproved backgrounds and living conditions. But you’re supposed to be a tad bit better in covering up those motivations, mmmkay?