Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized the Roe v. Wade decision Saturday, stating that it overruled the democratic will by handing down a decision made by “unelected old men.”
Speaking at the University of Chicago Law School, the 80 year-old justice said that the 1973 decision, together with Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion until the ninth month of pregnancy, was too overreaching. Ginsburg said it would have been her preference that the High Court struck down only the Texas law in question without a decision that affected other states.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Ginsburg indicated that the judicial mandate from the High Court down galvanized opposition to abortion and gave abortion opponents a symbol to target. This outcome reversed the trend toward liberalizing abortion laws throughout the country that prevailed until that time.
“My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change,” Ginsburg said. The justice indicated that the Supreme Court should have, instead, “put its stamp of approval on the side of change and let that change develop in the political process.”
Ginsburg told law students that the Supreme Court should have directly affirmed a woman’s right to abortion rather than an alleged “right to privacy.”
The Roe decision “wasn’t woman-centered,” Ginsburg said. “It was physician-centered.”
Ginsburg said that, should the 1973 decision be overturned, “it’s not going to matter that much.” The justice stated that, even in “the worst-case scenario,” regulation of abortion would simply return to the 50 states, and “you would have a number of states that will never go back to the way it was.”
Forty years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, abortion remains one of the most polarizing issues in American culture. Pro-life advocates have been successful at scaling back the 1973 decision in states such as North Dakota, Arkansas, and Kansas, in which new laws place more restrictions on abortions.
Ginsburg’s statements run contrary to those of the nation’s abortion industry, which has claimed that the Roe v. Wade decision allowed abortion to become safe and legal, and a reversal of that decision would result in a return to “back-alley abortions” and dire consequences for women.