What Does Ruth Bader Ginsburg Mean By "The Populations That We Don't Want to Have Too Many Of"?

by Benjamin Domenech on 2:46 pm July 9, 2009

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Sometimes, when it comes to an issue like abortion, people slip up and say what they mean. It’s seldom a point deemed appropriate for public discussion, but on occasion someone will point out that a hugely disproportionate number of abortions are executed upon black and Hispanic children. Occasionally, a pro-life person will even go so far as to wonder whether, for many supporters of legalized abortions, this fact is a feature of the system, not a bug. Supporters of legalized abortion at this point, offended by the idea, will typically recoil in horror at the suggestion, insisting that no responsible supporter of legalized abortion feels that way. Most abortion proponents will then insist that the disproportionate numbers of minority abortions is an unintended (and surely undesirable!) consequence of this nonetheless important social policy.

Thankfully, we have people like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg around to remind us what an insidious lie this is, as she does in this weekend’s New York Times:

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] 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. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. [Emphasis mine]

There is no way to interpret this statement that does not expose the ugly underbelly of a significant part of the legalized abortion movement. After all, the statistics are unambiguous–the “populations” that are effectively culled by abortion are overwhelmingly blacks and hispanics. One could expand Justice Ginsburg’s statement to its furthest charitable limit and say that Justice Ginsburg didn’t think that blacks and hispanics shouldn’t have their populations kept down, specifically, but rather that just in general we don’t want to have too many poor or unwanted people hanging around. This argument would have much in common with that found in the bestselling book Freakonomics, which used crime statistics to argue that abortion filled a communal need by casting out the “weak” to ensure the “strong” survive, with a coldly calculating description of ethnic cleansing.

Yet even if we suppose that Justice Ginsburg was not proceeding from the Freakonomics perspective, and was instead totally uninformed about the statistics of abortion today, there is no escaping the fact that she believes that there is an identifiable group of people that society “[doesn't] want to have too many of.” And by “[doesn't] want to have too many of,” she means “they should be killed in utero,” disposed of with medical precision before they are allowed to take a breath.

Eliminate the fact that this is an elderly woman, a Supreme Court Justice who has received the fawning praise of the left for decades: There is no identifiable “population” you can plug into that statement and reach any conclusion other than that the person who would say such a thing is, morally speaking, a monster who deserves to be shunned by polite society.

Of course, the problem is not merely confined to one of the leading lights of liberal, pro-abortion legal thought. Over the years, it has become clear that Ginsburg’s assessment of the situation is essentially correct: the leading crusaders of the abortion movement wanted abortion legalized not because they believed fundamentally in the freedom of women to kill their children in utero, but rather because society had too many undesirables who needed culling from the herd. As explained by Ron Weddington, the abortion lobby’s counsel in the Roe v. Wade case, abortion is a very useful tool to “eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor section of our country.” And in case President Clinton, the recipient of his statement, needed further hints as to whom Weddington was referring, the abortion attorney was happy to oblige: “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, so it’s them you want to do away with.

Today, the Senate is about to take up another nomination, and another nominee in Sonia Sotomayor who sees a surprising number of issues in unequivocally racial terms. If history has taught us anything, it is that unchecked power — placed in the hands of a person who sees the world as ever-defined by ethnicity, who makes judgments based on the color of a person’s skin in any capacity — always yields disastrous results. While I personally support Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation, and believe she is qualified to sit on the court, these are questions she must answer and answer fully. Will our Senate learn from these lessons of history, or rather blithely doom us to repeat them? Will they heed Justice Ginsburg’s dismissal of these comments as irrelevant, or will they ask Judge Sotomayor to answer the questions that have been raised about her repeated statements regarding “inherent physiological differences” measured across ethnic lines? We shall see.

As for Justice Ginsburg, she will of course never be shunned in polite company for her recent statement. As a lifetime appointee to the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg speaks from an unassailable position can say any monstrous thing she wishes to say, and no one will take her seat or her power from her. Though she would perhaps do well to remember this bit of writing from Cormac McCarthy:

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talking about the right wing this and the right wing that. I ain’t even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that’s a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I don’t like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I don’t think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I don’t have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion. I’m going to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.

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