Thursday, July 09, 2009
Ginsburg: I thought Roe was to rid undesirables
Ginsburg: I thought Roe
was to rid undesirables
Justice discusses 'growth in populations
that we don't want to have too many of'
Posted: July 08, 2009
9:46 pm Eastern
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 this Sunday but viewable online now, 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."
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.
(Story continues below)