The Catholic Thing
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Eugenicist Print E-mail
By George J. Marlin   
Monday, 13 July 2009

In an interview published in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, revealed the purpose for legalized abortion: “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe [v. Wade] was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” (Emphasis added.)

What a deplorable statement. Unfortunately, the Times reporter failed to ask the obvious follow-up: What populations do we have too many of? Jews? African-Americans? Hispanic-Americans? Catholics? Fundamentalists? The poor? Welfare recipients?

This language about getting rid of “populations that we don’t want to have too many of” – a/k/a undesirables or those “unfit to live” – is the standard endgame of a vile product of the social Darwinist movement: eugenics, the so-called science of good birth.

According to radical social Darwinists, people who are an economic or medical burden on society should be eliminated. To promote their agenda, they founded numerous organizations, including the Eugenics Record Office and the Cold Spring Harbor Eugenics Laboratory (funded by the Rockefellers, Harrimans, and Carnegies), and introduced eugenics legislation throughout the nation.

America’s leading apostle of social Darwinism, William Graham Sumner of Yale (1840-1910), declared: “Let it be understood that we cannot go outside of this alternative: liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest; not liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members.”

Another eugenicist, Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), warned the developed nations not to foster the survival of the unfit by interfering with harsh economic realities. In the name of biology, he opposed free public education, sanitation laws, compulsory vaccinations, and welfare programs for those he called the “hereditary poor.” He feared that these services would encourage the perpetuation of undesirable physical, intellectual, and social traits. Spencer’s social Darwinism made the pseudo-science of eugenics “morally” permissible in the name of preserving “society as a whole.”

Even Theodore Roosevelt caught eugenics fever. “Someday,” wrote Roosevelt in 1913 to Charles Davenport, director of the Eugenics Record Office, “we must realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world, and that we have no business permitting the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.”

In his work Preface to Eugenics (1940) Frederick Osborne of the American Museum of Natural History called for the segregation of the “hereditary defective” in state institutions; “It is doubtful whether democracy can long continue in any society except one whose operation favors the survival of competent people in every social and occupational group.”

The National Socialists were the first to make eugenics a matter of public policy. The 1933 German Racial legislation signed into law by Chancellor Hitler provided the legal foundation for the Nazi Final Solution of Europe’s Jewish population and approved euthanasia, abortion, artificial insemination, electric-shock experiments, tissue and muscle experiments, fetal experimentation and gas chambers. All these Nazi horrors took place in the name of eugenics. Joseph Goebbels ordered all German organizations to be educated in “the eugenics way of thinking!”

When the Nuremburg trials revealed the horrendous consequences of Nazi eugenics programs, the American movement went underground. The Cold Spring Harbor Eugenics Laboratory, for instance, dropped “Eugenics” from its title in an attempt to maintain respectability. Annals of Eugenics became Annals of Human Genetics. Eugenicists now called themselves “population scientists” or “human geneticists.”

By the 1970s, however, the eugenics movement made a comeback with Roe v. Wade, their biggest victory. Reviewing this . . . success, journalist-philosopher Malcolm Muggeridge, concluded, “For the Guinness Book of Records, you can submit this: that it takes about thirty years in our humane society to transform a war crime into an act of compassion.”

The eugenics movement flourishes because public officials, like Justice Ginsburg, subscribe to an ideology that discards the sanctity of the human person. Believing that man is merely a machine or animal – not a person with a soul and, therefore, unique among God’s creations – makes it easy for them to form a rational justification for getting rid of “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

It would be comforting to think that Justice Ginsburg will catch a lot of flack and be compelled to explain her outrageous comment in the Times to the American people. But this is one bit of news – and history – the Times is unlikely to think fit to print.

So let’s at least remind ourselves of G.K. Chesterton’s words back in 1915:

[E]ugenics is chiefly a denial of the Declaration of Independence. It urges that so far from all men being born equal, numbers of them ought not to be born at all. And so far from their being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they are to be forbidden a form of liberty and happiness so private that the maddest inquisitor never dreamed of meddling with it before.

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Comments (16)Add Comment
Deja Vue?
written by Willie, July 14, 2009
C.S. Lewis' "Abolition of Man" or Huxley's " Brave New World," may be good reads or re-reads at this point. It is noteworthy that the world sponsered programs to eliminate poverty by way of abortion are aimed at third-world countries who are thought to have too many Blacks or Latinos reproducing. These white wealthy elite probably have more control over policy that we think. With the moral disregard of infantacide,embryo experimentation and euthanasia, are we engaging in the sins of the past?
A Reader
written by Linda Smith, July 14, 2009
I think that it would be better to stay with arguing a principle and its logical underpinnings and to refrain from singling out a particular comment made by someone who is given no chance to explain her context. Perhaps Justice Ginsberg meant what she seemed to have said but perhaps she did not. We risk commiting slander or at least detraction when we engage in this kind of commentary.
written by EJCM, July 14, 2009
The Truths are no longer self-evident.
With Respect
written by debby, July 14, 2009
I disagree w/Linda's interp of slander. Ginsberg is a professional judge. She knows what she is saying. What context can justify her comment?
Jesus said we would be judged according to the words of our mouth. W/respect, I would hope that in an effort to love our ememy we would not remain silent when faced w/evil. History is full of the blood of innocents who died on the altar of "what seems right to a man." Prov 16:25
I am grateful for the Catholic commentary/reporting.
written by Bill Loughlin, July 14, 2009
Mr. Marlin's analysis is most welcome. For an unvarnished secular reaction, see the response to Jonah Goldberg's column in the L.A. Times online today, particularly the unabashed name-calling on the part of those progressives who think abortion is a virtue. They are admittedly unfazed by the deaths of millions of unborn children, but they don't seem too eager to follow them to the grave by committing suicide.
Taken out of context...
written by Joe, July 14, 2009
I didn't see where you pointed out to your readers, just to make sure they understood of course, that Ginsberg wasn't on the court until 1993, 20 years AFTER RvW and was speaking in regards to what she "thought" those on the court might have been thinking at the time. There is no follow up because it was only speculation on her part.

This is a Catholic website, I would encourage you as a Catholic to not take one sentence out of context (as protestants do) and try to preach a message on it.
written by Ashley Collins, July 14, 2009
In response to Joe about the quote being taken out of context:While I agree that it should be mentioned about the timing of the statement. But take a look at the grammer of the quote as well, "populations that we DON"T want to have too many of." "Don't" as in "Do Not" meaning (perhaps by mistake) unwanted present populations. That's what gets to me. She didn't say "populations that THEY DID NOT want too have too many of [at the time of the ruling]."
Well done Mr. Marlin.
written by Achilles, July 15, 2009
Excellent article Mr. Marlin! You were crystal clear in your supportive comments, the mud thrown into the water has sunk very quickly. A most deflating aspect of today's culture is the fact that direct, incisive and intelligent commentary stings the weak minded like a jelly fish. This seems to be testament to the failure of self esteem building in the public schools. THanks!
Way off
written by James, July 16, 2009
This is indeed taken out of context. The NY Times piece is a verbal interview, not a written text. Justice Ginsburg is doing something people often do in speech--characterizing a position she doesn't hold by speaking "from" that position temporarily. In other words she's speaking "in character," as it were. Read the preceding few questions, and the entirety of her response to the question highlighted here, and that becomes clear. As a Catholic, I find this analysis rather embarrassing.
To James
written by Brad Miner, July 16, 2009
Honestly now, even if your assertion about Ginsburg were true, she quite clearly characterized her sense of the reason why Roe was decided as it was. Put another way, even if she personally disapproves of eugenics, she has affirmed that she believes the Court--or the litigigants in Roe--did approve of eugenics as a justification for the decision that has led to the extermination of millions.
written by Achilles, July 18, 2009
Dear James, I am right there with you, as a Catholic, I find your analysis embarassing. If only all Catholics could be so clearsightedly self critical, well done!
written by Dan Deeny, July 18, 2009
Excellent article and comments. Mr. Marlin, you need to interview Judge Ginsburg to clear up any misunderstanding. She should be very willing to set the record straight.
Facts vs Ideology
written by Darwinian, July 18, 2009
Your ideology about the "sanctity of life" is laughable. Life is not sacred, nor it is a right. It is a struggle. The life of a child rapist or serial killer is worthless. Your religious delusions are what brought us this overpopulated world, wasteful, overrun by the scum, the worthless, the insane and the criminals. Look around you. Sumner was right. Facts alone speak against you, but your religious blindness and your inability to comprehend reality are not really surprising. So long.
To Darwinian
written by Brad Miner, July 18, 2009
So long, indeed.
to Darwinian
written by debby, July 20, 2009
i hope you haven't left yet.
you need a mother.
Our Lady wants you to know Her love, how precious your life is to Her, how Her Son longs to be in communion with you, how even your sins- the sins of anger (Jesus equated to murder), lust (Jesus equated to adultery, even rape), even your sin of hate (have you gained the world only to lose your soul?)- yes, your sins He paid for.
darwin gave you no self worth.
God gives you life eternal and infinite value.
i am praying for you.
written by Sylvia, July 23, 2009
She was speculating about some of the social forces behind the case rather than her own personal beliefs. A link to the interview should have been provided. Just another lesson in not taking things out of context...

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