Abortion as population control?

african kings

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

African Americans who are just as suspicious of white liberals as they are of conservatives will have plenty of fodder this week as recent comments by left-leaning Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bater Ginsberg have many asking for an explanation.

In a recent interview with the New York Times magazine, Gingsburg was asked to elaborate on an earlier answer regarding poor women and their access to reproductive clinics. In response the Justice is quoted as saying: “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.”

As it is stated, Ginsberg appears either to admit that she was part of the “we” that had concerns about population growth in “unwanted” populations, or that in her view the members of the Court who decided Roe vs. Wade had those concerns at the time.

Either stance should disturb us greatly and is of particular interest at a time when Sonia Sotomayor is undergoing congressional hearings and facing questions about abortion. Is Justice Ginsburg advocating abortion as a means of population control?

The fact that eugenics and reproductive rights have always had an intertwined, if not mutualistic, relationship has been all but forgotten in our collective discussions about the African American experience. Ginsberg has reminded us of this, regrettably conjuring up recollections of buried national embarrassments like the infamous Tuskegee Experiment or President Richard Nixon’s insistence that abortion was necessary in the case of interracial babies.

Justice Ginsburg deserves to explain her comments. She does not get a pass because she supports affirmative action nor should we assume she is a racist because she had a moment of distasteful inarticulateness.

As an intellectually curious and fair-minded black body politic, we should hold Justice Gingsberg to account. So please explain your comment Justice Ginsberg. We eagerly await your answer.