Reporter gives Justice Ginsburg a “do-over”
By Dave Andrusko
One of the really nice thing about being a media favorite is you get as many mulligans, as many “do-overs” as you want. In 2009, in an interview that appeared in the New York Times Magazine, pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made some remarks that were–to put it in the kindest terms and to give her every benefit of the doubt—racially insensitive. I wrote about it at the time and have reprinted my remarks at “Did Justice Ginsburg Reveal More Than She Intended To?”
Three+ years later that same reporter, Emily Bazelon, writes a follow up piece for Slate magazine headlined “Talking to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: And clearing up a point of confusion—about her views on abortion—that I caused three years ago.”
Here’s the key paragraph (and introduction) found in Bazelon’s Slate story that ran Friday:
“At one point, we talked about the lack of Medicaid funding for abortions for poor women, because of a 1980 Supreme Court decision called Harris v. McRae. She said then: ‘The ruling 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.’”
Bazelon takes all the blame for the criticism that came Ginsburg’s way. After all, if there was any ambiguity in Ginsburg’s answer she—Bazelon—should have followed up.
Okay, why hadn’t she? Because Ginsburg was such a wonderful person it would never (indeed SHOULD never) have crossed Bazelon’s mind to ask what was the racial composition of those “populations.” Bazelon writes
“To imagine that Justice Ginsburg would endorse eugenics as a motivation for supporting legal abortion, you have to be out to get her. I say that because this notion is so entirely at odds with her life’s work advocating for equal rights for women, especially poor women. That’s why it didn’t occur to me at the time. It’s a gotcha, and nothing more. And for the record, I’d be just as loath to impute support for eugenics to Scalia, because he’s also never done anything to suggest that he thinks that way.”
So, Bazelon catches up with Justice Ginsburg after a speech at Yale College to read her the quote and ask her what she meant. By the way, just so you know, there were other questionable comments in Ginsburg’s remarks that Bazelon did not bring up in her Slate story or, apparently, ask the Justice about in the most recent interview. (See “Did Justice Ginsburg Reveal More Than She Intended To?”)
You have to read Bazelon’s interpretation of what Ginsburg told her after the speech to get the full flavor. But the gist is that there was the population growth argument for abortion and the “feminist women’s rights argument” for abortion and never the twain met, certainly not in Justice Ginsburg’s abortion jurisprudence. That was easy.
But it’s not enough just to rehabilitate Ginsburg. She has to put Ginsburg highly questionable comments in the “proper” context so as to show not only that Ginsburg’s motives were not wrong but ahead of her time. Bazelon tells us Ginsburg’s concern was “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.”
Get it? Ginsburg—and by extension the pro-abortion feminist movement—were not guilty of eugenics–let alone abortion on demand for any reason or no reason. They were really all about promoting contraception, the bane of those evil “social conservatives.”
Sound familiar? Talk about something—anything—other than abortion and quickly shift the blame. These people will say anything.
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