Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Past Abortion Comments Raise Questions About Her View of Eugenics

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a staunch defender of legal abortion, arguing that it’s a woman’s right. But did she also believe in eugenics?

Ginsburg, 87, died from pancreatic cancer complications on Friday, causing many on the left to worry about the power balance of the Supreme Court and the future of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. About 61 million abortions have taken place in the United States since then.

If President Donald Trump manages to install Ginsburg’s replacement, then there will be six judges on the court appointed by Republicans, and three appointed by Democrats — and possibly a majority in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.

As one of the most liberal justices on the court, Ginsburg frequently got asked about her abortion views in interviews during her tenure on the Supreme Court. She gave a few reasons for supporting it — outside of the U.S. Constitution.

For example, Ginsburg suggested controlling certain populations was a reason to support taxpayer-funded abortions, in a 2009 interview with New York Times Magazine. The Hyde Amendment bans federal dollars from being spent on abortions.

The exact question Ginsburg fielded was, “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 responded by referring to Harris v. McRae, a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids using Medicaid funds for abortions. According to the interviewer, Ginsburg said:

Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. 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.

One study suggests that the Hyde Amendment may prevent about 50,000 abortions a year.

One might wonder what Ginsburg meant when she said “growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

The Family Research Council did. In response to Ginsburg’s comments, the conservative organization reportedly asked in its email newsletter, “Who might those populations be, Justice Ginsburg? The poor? Minorities? Persons with disabilities? Residents of Appalachia?”

Five years later in an interview with Elle, Ginsburg may have answered that question. She noted that part of her stance on abortion was that if Roe v Wade were overturned and abortion were left to the states, rich women could travel out of state and have them while poor women would not be able to get them.

So then the interviewer from Elle asked, “When people realize that poor women are being disproportionately affected, that’s when everyone will wake up? That seems very optimistic to me.”

Here’s what Ginsburg had to say about that.

Yes, I think so. They’re not conscious of it now. I mean, you have to think pretty deeply. A girl will think, Well, I’m okay, I don’t have any problem. But it makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people …”

For reference, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines eugenics as, “the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition.”

The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute states that 75 percent of women who get abortions in the United States are poor. They’re also disproportionately non-white. Although whites are the majority in the United States, white people only get 39 percent of abortions in the country; 61 percent of abortion recipients are non-white. The Guttmacher Institute says that 28 percent are black, 25 percent are Hispanic, 6 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 3 percent belong to other races.