Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Kudos to the ever-readable, always thoughtful Mollie Hemingway for her excellent piece yesterday, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Really Wants Poor People To Stop Having Babies”
We had also written about the excerpt from the interview Justice Ginsburg gave Elle magazine. But we focused on how she had trashed fellow Justice Anthony Kennedy, Congress, the “Hobby Lobby” Supreme Court decision, and had more subtly tweaked affluent younger women (for insufficient pro-abortion advocacy) and President Obama who had used the prospect of her possible resignation prior to the November elections as red meat to gear up Democratic activists. (Ginsburg made it clear she likes it just fine where she is.)
Hemingway zeroed in on Ginsburg’s…insensitive comments about poor people having babies (I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, although that is hard).
Hemingway reminds us of the incredible comments Ginsburg made to pro-abortion scribe Emily Bazelon in a piece that ran five years ago in the Sunday New York Times Magazine.
NRL News Today wrote about that exchange, a 4,327-word-long Q&A about the direction justices like Ginsburg would like abortion jurisprudence to go. (Hint: back to the future.)
Ginsburg momentarily got herself in hot water in response to Bazelon’s inquiry about what Bazelon described as 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. 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.”
As I wrote at that time it was hard not to reach a very ugly conclusion. Ginsburg read Roe to be setting the stage for the government to pay for the abortions of poor women. Why? Because part of the backdrop for Roe—and the reason she expected the High Court in to overturn the Hyde Amendment’s limitation on Medicaid-financed abortion in McRae–was fear that the “wrong” kinds of people were experiencing population growth (the kind “that we don’t want to have too many of”).
It is no accident, as they say, that three years later, Bazelon would caught up with Ginsburg after a speech at Yale College to read her the quote and ask her what she really meant. Bazelon then dutifully transcribed Ginsburg’s revisionism in the form of an article for Slate.com.
Hemingway explained to her reader that Ginsburg was back saying the same old ugly things, only more briefly.
Hemingway writes, “Anyway, in an interview with Elle, [Ginsburg] 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.” Ginsburg said
“It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.”
I could paraphrase Hemingway’s brilliant conclusion but I could not possibly do her justice. So here it is:
“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.”
NRL News, Dave Andrusko