Several years ago, in 2009 to be precise, readers may remember a kerfuffle about Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her comment that Roe v. Wade was partially motivated by the desire not to have too many of the "populations that we don't want to have too many of"--namely, poor people.
At the time, some came to Ginsberg's defense, saying that she had merely commented that this was a societal motivation, not that she shared the perspective. I commented quite a bit (see here and in the comments here [yay, Wayback machine]) about the confusing nature of what Ginsberg said. My perspective, which still seems to me moderate and reasonable, was that the views in question are so disgusting that it was telling in and of itself that Ginsberg discussed them coolly without clarifying whether she shared them. Moreover, she continues to support government funding for poor women's abortions, to support it avidly, despite concerns that she herself brought up that this might lead to government coercion on poor women to have abortions. Her "argument" for laying that fear to rest was truly strange and appeared to consist in saying that, since the Supreme Court has decided that it is not a constitutional requirement for the government to pay for abortions, actual government funding for poor women's abortions cannot become coercive. How exactly the presence or absence of a constitutional rationale for providing the government funding is supposed to affect the coercive or non-coercive nature of government abortion funding Ginsberg did not say. It was an extremely illogical bit of legal and sociological reasoning, as I pointed out at the time.
But as to whether Ginsberg was identifying herself with the idea that poor women should be given ready access to abortion because they are the sort of people we don't want to have more of--well, she left herself some plausible deniability there.
Her most recent comment on the subject leaves much less wiggle room.
In a recent interview with Elle, Ginsberg says,
It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.She is speaking about various state regulations on abortion clinics that cause clinics to close and require women to travel farther to obtain abortions, but she could be speaking of anything that makes abortions more difficult to obtain. To my mind, this most recent comment is fairly unequivocal. Why should society, as a matter of policy, want to avoid promoting "birth only among the poor"? Why should society be sure that poor women, in particular, have ready access to abortion lest they have more births than rich people? Well, for the very reason expressed in her discussion five years ago--namely, that they are "the populations that we don't want to have too many of." The comments are absolutely consistent with one another and point directly to the eugenic motivation that has lain behind the pro-abortion movement all along.
In this reported interview (of which I cannot find a complete transcript but only the interviewer's summary, which is obviously attempting to exonerate Ginsberg), Ginsberg allegedly clarified her 2009 remarks. But actually, not much clarity results. The interviewer asks her what are obviously leading questions trying to separate the "feminist" arguments for Roe from the population control arguments. Ginsberg, under the careful leading of the interviewer, stated that her original comment was "widely misinterpreted" and that she was merely reporting societal concerns and the existence of groups such as Zero Population Growth who had a separate concern that motivated them to promote abortion. Since (thank goodness) the actual rationale behind Roe given by the court was a "right to privacy," why then, Roe cannot be tainted with a eugenic purpose! Ta-da. Ginsberg also reiterated her strange rationale for ceasing to worry about coercing women to have abortions after a later Supreme Court decision. But then we get this odd and revealing bit, even from the biased interviewer:
Justice Ginsburg also made it clear today that the issue she had in mind when we spoke in 2009 was concern about population growth among all classes (and races). In the end, if that concern has a legacy, it’s in the promotion of contraception. But of course social conservatives never want birth control to be the focus of a discussion about reproductive rights, because on that ground they lose.
Say, what? First of all, it is manifestly false that the only issue Ginsberg had in mind in 2009 was population growth among "all classes," because that is not what she said she was talking about at the time. Second, it is manifestly false that abortion has nothing to do with limiting population growth! Of course one can try to limit population growth by promoting abortion as well as contraception, and population control organizations do so all the time, all over the world! Moreover, how interesting it is that this Slate interviewer, Emily Bazelon, should attempt to salvage something of the population control agenda that good little liberals can endorse. Hey, as long as we say we're concerned about population growth among all classes and races, we're good to go, right? Though sometimes it might be politic to pretend that this is all about birth control and not at all about abortion.
Ginsberg evidently gets a little uncomfortable about the idea of actually coercing poor women to have abortions. (One wonders if she would be similarly uncomfortable with pressuring them to use birth control.) But when it comes to just giving lots of access to abortion and making sure that these populations are not deprived of easy access to this option which is so important, especially for them, well, then the truth comes out. Her, and others', attempts at "clarification" of her 2009 comments have been thrown into a cocked hat by her most recent comment on the subject.
Ginsberg tries to position herself as simply concerned for poor women who are deprived of one of the goods of life, as though we were talking about some difficulty the poor might have in getting enough protein in their diets. But there's one small problem with that analogy, which is that abortion is a killing procedure and hence makes for fewer people. Thus these comments keep sort of popping out of Ginsberg's mouth to the effect that abortion for poor women is, and rationally should be, motivated by a desire to have fewer poor people, to discourage breeding among the poor.
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.