Ginsburg: I thought Roe was to rid undesirables [Excerpts]
Justice discusses 'growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of'
In an astonishing admission, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she was under the impression that legalizing abortion with the 1973 Roe. v. Wade case would eliminate undesirable members of the populace, or as she put it "populations that we don't want to have too many of."
Her remarks, set to be published in the New York Times Magazine [July 12, 2009… came in an in-depth interview with Emily Bazelon titled, "The Place of Women on the Court."
The 16-year veteran of the high court was asked if she were a lawyer again, what would she "want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda."
Ginsburg responded: “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.”
Question: 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?
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. 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.
[TBC: The comments concerning “growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of” are consistent with those expressed by supporters of eugenics such as Margaret Sanger who said, “"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population," she said, "if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members" (Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon).]