The Corner

Ginsburg: Abort the Poor

Let me offer three cheers for Kevin’s post on Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Let me also join the pile-on.

First, Ginsburg’s view that we don’t want more poor babies is perfectly consistent with a century-old progressive tradition as I explain at some length here. It is simply a restatement of Margaret Sanger’s “religion of birth control” which would “ease the financial load of caring for with public funds . . . children destined to become a burden to themselves, to their family, and ultimately to the nation.”

Second, the reaction, or I should say non-reaction, to her comments offers an interesting contrast with the deliberately dishonest attacks on Bill Bennett who, in 2005, offered a hypothetical in which crime might be reduced if blacks had more abortions. Relying on the Freakonomics thesis, he said, “That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.” Bennett’s critics willfully ignored the part about such a policy being “impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible” and immediately proclaimed, in the words of Ed Schultz that Bennett was “out there advocating the murder of all black babies.”

To this day, the hypocrisy and stupidity of the reaction is difficult to capture in its staggering totality. As I noted at the time, Bennett’s pro-choice critics suddenly accepted that fetuses are in fact “babies” and that killing them is “murder.” In an instant they defenestrated the entire moral apparatus for abortion – fetuses are just “uterine contents” and eliminating them is merely of a piece with “women’s health” — just so they could score a few cheap partisan points against Bennett and preen about their racial enlightenment.

Some of Bennett’s critics might split hairs by arguing that Bennett was talking about crime and Bader is talking about poverty. But this ground is awfully weak when you factor in the fact that virtually all liberal explanations about the causes of crime hinge on some variations of “root causes” arguments.

It also misses the core philosophical and moral point of Bennett’s remarks, which weren’t about race at all. They were about the moral illegitimacy of justifying abortion as a tool of social engineering (his comments were in response to a caller who said that abortion was having a deleterious effect on social security).

Now here is Ruth Bader Ginsburg talking about controlling the population of certain undesirables. It is doubtful that she is unaware that the poor are disproportionately African-American. So when she says we don’t want to promote growth of poor people, it doesn’t take any of the bad faith Bennett’s detractors deployed to conclude, “Oh, we know who she means.”

And yet you can be sure that liberals will not express even the tiniest fraction of outrage against her remarks. Why? Well, to be sure, partisanship explains much of the silence. But some of it undoubtedly stems from the fact that many simply agree with her.

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