A stirring new friend-of-the-court (“amicus”) brief in a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court abortion case, filed on behalf of numerous “African American pro-life organizations,” powerfully argues that there is a “a long history involving unqualified and uncredentialed abortion providers disproportionately harming black women.”
The case, which has previously been covered by The Daily Wire, is June Medical Services, L.L.C. v. Gee, and emanates out of the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The case involves a Louisiana law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law was upheld by a divided Fifth Circuit panel. As described by SCOTUSblog, Gee presents the legal question of whether the statute “conflicts with the Supreme Court’s binding precedent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.” In the 2016 Hellerstedt case, a divided Supreme Court deemed a similar statute in Texas to be unconstitutional.
Prominent black pro-life leaders who signed on to the amicus brief include Ryan Bomberger, Alveda King (the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), Dean Nelson, Catherine Davis, Stacy Washington, and numerous others. The brief’s argument summary opens with a bang:
The struggle for racial equality is not over. The black community experiences a disproportionate share of abortions, often from doctors that do not have the same credentials as those who perform other forms of surgery. Until Act 620, Louisiana’s abortion clinics were exempt from the admitting privileges requirement that applies to other outpatient and ambulatory surgical centers in the state. This disparity is significant to black women, who make up the majority of abortion clinic patients and thus bear most of the known risks of abortion in Louisiana. These known risks are life-threatening to mothers.
The brief continues to tear at the heartstrings by recalling the tragic stories of many black women who have died from abortion complications when they visited Kermit Gosnell-esque shoddy, un-credentialed, largely unregulated abortion clinics. “These gruesome deaths are part of a long history involving unqualified and uncredentialed abortion providers disproportionately harming black women,” the brief continued. “By requiring admitting privileges, [Louisiana] also created a means for reports about individual doctors to be checked against a national database — for the benefit of all patients, of all races, equally.”
As has been frequently noted by The Daily Wire, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was an avowed eugenicist and racist. Sanger “was an out and proud eugenicist who described the poor and immigrants as ‘human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders’ and ‘spawning … human beings who never should have been born’ in her book ‘Pivot of Civilization,’” The Daily Wire has reported.
Sanger also wrote: “The main objects of the Population Congress would be to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring[;] to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.”
In a thunderous recent separate writing in the Fifth Circuit case of Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs, Judge James C. Ho (for whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I previously served as a law clerk) wrote at length on the racist history of abortion advocacy in the United States (footnotes omitted):
Eugenics—the concept of improving the human race through control of the reproductive process—has frequently been associated with explicitly racist viewpoints. “Many eugenicists believed that the distinction between the fit and the unfit could be drawn along racial lines.” Box v. Planned Parenthood of Ind. & Ky., Inc., 139 S. Ct. 1780, 1785 (2019) (Thomas, J., concurring) (providing examples). Many eugenics programs, such as sterilization, explicitly targeted minorities—as the district court rightly acknowledged. Jackson Women’s Health Org., 349 F. Supp. 3d at 541 n.22 (noting that “Mississippi . . . sterilized six out of ten black women in Sunflower County at the local hospital—against their will”).
“From the beginning, birth control and abortion were promoted as means of effectuating eugenics.” Box, 139 S. Ct. at 1787 (Thomas, J., concurring). See also id. (“[A]bortion is an act rife with the potential for eugenic manipulation.”); id. at 1788 (discussing Margaret Sanger’s view that birth control would help control the African American population); id. at 1789 (“Support for abortion can . . . be found throughout the literature on eugenics.”); DAVID T. BEITO & LINDA ROYSTER BEITO, BLACK MAVERICK: T.R.M. HOWARD’S FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND ECONOMIC POWER 215 (2009) (noting that some African American civil rights leaders “fretted about the racist implications of abortion”). Indeed, among past abortion advocates were “some eugenicists [who] believed that abortion should be legal for the very purpose of promoting eugenics.” Box, 139 S. Ct. at 1789 (Thomas, J., concurring).
Advocates of eugenics might well celebrate, then, that abortion “has proved to be a disturbingly effective tool for implementing the discriminatory preferences that undergird eugenics.” Id. at 1790–91 (Thomas, J., concurring) (providing examples). See also id. at 1791 (noting that the current “abortion ratio . . . among black women is nearly 3.5 times the ratio for white women”); William McGurn, White Supremacy and Abortion, WALL ST. J. (Sept. 24, 2019), https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-supremacy-and-abortion-11567460392 (discussing “why so many African-Americans, especially African-American women, have been leaders in the pro-life cause”); id. (“Catherine Davis of the Restoration Project . . . notes that the estimated 20 million black abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973 are more than the entire African-American population in 1960.”).