Justice Thomas gives an unsettling history lesson on eugenics and abortion

In his concurring opinion in Box v. Planned Parenthood, Justice Clarence Thomas gives a deep dive on the disturbing, nauseating true racism of the eugenics of the 20th century Progressives, a movement that gave rise to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, among other ills. The Federalist gives a summary, but I encourage everyone to read the entire opinion:

Thomas’ argument is two-fold. First, embracing abortion for the sake of eugenics was an endorsed practice and long-held belief of early 20th century progressive leaders. Second, with the development of more accurate prenatal tests, aborting children with unwanted characteristics is a modern threat disguised as “reproductive health services.”

Indeed, 21st century progressives often engage in a revisionist history of their early 20th century counterparts’ embrace of eugenics. But Thomas recounts the lengthy history Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger had with the practice of population control. In 1921, she wrote that “the unbalance between the birth rate of the ‘unfit’ and the ‘fit’ [is] admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization” and that “the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”

Sanger was a featured guest of the Ku Klux Klan and a proponent of the forced sterilization program of the Nazi regime in the 1930s. She deemed the population of black Americans “degenerate and defective” and her clinics targeted black and immigrant communities like central Harlem in New York City.

Alan Guttmacher, president of Planned Parenthood in the 1960s and early 1970s who explicitly endorsed eugenic reasons for abortion, is also included in Thomas’ opinion. Guttmacher wrote that “it should be permissible to abort any pregnancy … in which there is a strong probability of an abnormal or malformed infant.”

The racist work of Planned Parenthood today is built on the foundational beliefs of their predecessors, Sanger and Guttmacher. Seventy-eight percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in minority communities. Blacks make up 12.1 percent of the U.S. population, but 35 percent of the country’s abortions. In his opinion, Thomas cites New York Department of Health data that states, “there are areas of New York City in which black children are more likely to be aborted than they are to be born alive—and are up to eight times more likely to be aborted than white children in the same area.”

Oddly enough, the reaction from today’s “progressives” is uniform outrage against Thomas for his opinion. I would have thought that they would savor the demolition of, among other things, the key presumption behind eugenics policies, that being their belief that blacks are intellectually inferior because of their very genetics.

How could they not enjoy the intellectual takedown of that particular noxious belief coming specifically from the person of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas? But they don’t. Res ipsa loquitur, on both counts.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...