Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No, RBG Is Not Embracing Eugenics

[NB: like all my posts here, but particularly on this topic, this is a personal opinion and should in no way reflect upon my employer or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. Thx, JPB]

I so very rarely delve into abortion politics because my personal views are just that, personal, and entirely separate from my thoughts of Roe, Casey, or the broader abortion case jurisprudence as it stands today.* But this hullabaloo over Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent comments about not wanting more impoverished kids is absurd. Separate from the context, the statement is perfectly reasonable.

The quote:

It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.

Uh, yeah. For a party that embraces a smaller (if not non-existent) welfare state, this should be common sense. If abstinence were the context, this would be perfectly acceptable to the right.

The problem is one of philosophical priors, not a lurking embrace of Sangerian ethnic cleansing.

This isn’t a small semantic difference. Progressives and other pro-choice folks don’t see abortion as murder. They just don’t. You can believe it is, that doesn’t change the fact that they don’t. If you want to say that being actively pro-abortion is effectively supporting mass murder, it’s an opinion and it’s consistent. 

Suggesting, however, that RBG and other pro-choicers actively want to wipe-out the people who are poor, not the symptoms of poverty—you know, like teenage motherhood and all its trappings like dropping out of high school, working at a low-skill job that can’t pay for food, shelter and daycare, etc.—is just nonsense. 

They don't see the fetuses as people, so the underlying problem with the statement is that she does not believe abortion is killing children, not the destruction of a class or race of persons. Your problem, if you have one, is her view of abortion, not of poor people, let alone poor people of color.

Regardless of your opinion of abortion’s morality, just because a woman has an abortion at 17 because having a child would financially ruin her doesn’t mean she’ll never have kids when it’s a better time for her. Ergo, it’s not  supporting eugenics to say that, as a matter of public policy, we shouldn’t encourage unwed teenage motherhood. 

The left sees this as an abortion issue, the right sees this as a family/personal responsibility issue—both would agree, in a vacuum, unwed teen mothers are not ideal. The difference comes in what to do after a woman gets pregnant, but I’m not here to say what that should or should not be.

If you want to say abortion is murder, that’s your business. But don’t equate being pro-choice with supporting genocide through attrition. Yes, pro-choicers have a racist, horrific past—but that’s because America has a racist, horrific past. It’s no more racist to be pro-choice than it is to be in favor of small government. 

Both have roots in racism, because they both have roots in America. 

bellum medicamenti delenda est

*Indeed, RBG herself has misgivings about the rationale supporting current abortion jurisprudence.

PS—I’m not going to argue about this on Twitter, so don’t try.


JimmyJames said...


The views of the pro-choice crowd on the different levels of the (non)humanity of the fetus are irrelevant. Many within that crowd do recognize that there's a high chance that the fetus will become a human. Given the recognition of this simple cause-and-effect (which you've omitted), it's pretty easy to see how statements like:

"It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people."


"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."

... clearly refer to 'future humans' which clearly are not wanted. Note the eugenic theme here.

Although most of the pro-choice crowd do not support eugenics, some do. It doesn't follow that none of them do. You've simply denied the existence of the eugenic crowd as you casually swept them under the friendly rug of average pro-choicer.

Your shell game is unconvincing.

JPB said...

populations of what, exactly? Could "teenage unwed mothers" fit that description? I think so.

To believe that she meant 'undesirables' as opposed to 'too many poor people who can't afford to take care of themselves and therefore perpetuate their own poverty' is to ignore the rest of her professional career, jurisprudence, speeches, and writing about the most vulnerable people in society.

Doesn't make any sense.