Bench Memos

Re: Ginsburg and “Abortion Doctors”

A follow-up on my previous post about Justice Ginsburg’s ridiculous suggestion in the partial-birth case that Justice Kennedy’s use of the purportedly “pejorative label ‘abortion doctor’” reveals his supposed hostility to abortion:


From The Corner on Sunday are Princeton professor Robert P. George’s comments, which open:


The irony is that the label “abortion doctor” was actually introduced by supporters of legal abortion and its public funding as a way of softening the image of physicians who engage in the rather grisly practice of deliberate feticide.


And from Mollie Hemingway at


It’s hard to see how “abortion doctor” could be conceived as pejorative, considering abortion doctors call themselves just that. One wrote a book called Why I am an Abortion Doctor. Slate reporter Dahlia Lithwick used the phrase in 2005. The New York Times editorial board used it in a pro-choice editorial. The president of Planned Parenthood used the phrase and was quoted in a ruling supporting the right to abortion by the U.S. Court of Appeals. NARAL Pro-Choice America uses the phrase on its website, denouncing Sen. Tom Coburn for his opposition to abortion. Planned Parenthood uses the term on its site. And the Abortion Clinic Directory uses the phrase. More examples are here.


Stuart Buck has more.

Bottom line:  Only a tin-eared abortion extremist could think that use of the term “abortion doctor” reflects hostility to abortion.  And only a very sloppy justice would include that assertion in her opinion without having a law clerk do even two minutes of online research on the point.

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