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Supreme Court Acknowledges Abortion's Eugenics Roots: Roe Had a 'Demographic Effect'

  • Michael Foust Contributor
  • Updated Jul 07, 2022
Supreme Court Acknowledges Abortion's Eugenics Roots: Roe Had a 'Demographic Effect'

The same Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade also acknowledged the history of the eugenics movement that used abortion to target minority communities.

Justice Samuel Alito’s majority decision made the acknowledgment in a section that discussed the impetus behind laws prohibiting abortion during the 19th and 20th centuries. “There is ample evidence,” he wrote, “that the passage of these laws was … spurred by a sincere belief that abortion kills a human being.”

In a footnote, Alito then cited a friend-of-the-court brief that he said referenced the eugenics-driven motives of “proponents of liberal access to abortion” during the 20th century.

“They note that some such supporters have been motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African-American population,” Alito wrote. “... And it is beyond dispute that Roe has had that demographic effect. A highly disproportionate percentage of aborted fetuses are Black.”

Alito added in the footnote the majority does not “question the motives of either those who have supported or those who have opposed laws restricting abortions.”

Still, it was a major acknowledgment of the history of abortion, said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, who authored the friend-of-the-court brief cited by the Supreme Court. The brief represented a diverse coalition, including 70,000 African American and Hispanic churches.

“The U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is a positive step to stop this racist genocide,” Staver said. “Abortion is rooted in racism and eugenics to eliminate certain races and people. As the abortion issue now goes back to the states, we must work to end this senseless killing of innocent children.”

Alito’s footnote referenced pages 14-21 of the friend-of-the-court brief, which says in part, “Many eugenicists supported legalizing abortion, and abortion advocates – including future Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher – endorsed abortion for eugenic reasons.”

The brief further noted that for decades, “minority groups have complained that Planned Parenthood has been targeting their communities.”

“According to the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent data, Black women accounted for 33.6 percent of all reported abortions in 2018, even though they make up 13 percent of women in the United States,” the brief says.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/People Images

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.