The BIG LIE about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the So-Called “Shadow of Roe v. Wade

By Sunsara Taylor | April 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


This past week the Supreme Court heard arguments over two cases pertaining to same-sex marriage. Let me say upfront that the fact that the fundamental rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people are even up for deliberation is an indictment of the system we live under. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to deny the full legal and social equality of LGBT people.

But what I want to speak to here is the way that many—on both sides of this case—have cited Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her claim that the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion in 1973 went “too far, too fast.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is widely—and incorrectly—viewed as a champion of abortion rights.  A major article in the New York Times recently entitled, “Shadow of Roe v. Wade Looms Over Ruling on Gay Marriage” quotes her as saying, “It’s not that the judgment [Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973] was wrong, but it moved too far, too fast.” The New York Times goes on to say:

In Justice Ginsburg’s account, set out in public remarks and law review articles, the broad ruling in the abortion case froze activity in state legislatures, created venomous polarization and damaged the authority of the court...

“The Supreme Court’s decision was a perfect rallying point for people who disagreed with the notion that it should be a woman’s choice,” she added. “They could, instead of fighting in the trenches legislature by legislature, go after this decision by unelected judges.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead wrong when she claims that Roe v. Wade went “too far, too fast.” Even more, when she says this she is not proceeding as a “champion of women’s rights.” She is proceeding as a loyal servant to a system that has male-supremacy woven into its foundations.

In the forty years since Roe v. Wade there has been an enormous and mounting assault on women’s right to abortion. Hundreds of restrictions have been passed in states across the country—requiring parental consent, mandating waiting periods, forcing women to undergo invasive and unnecessary sonograms, requiring doctors to LIE to their patients about scientifically debunked “risks” of abortion, restricting travel across state lines to seek abortion, shutting down clinics that don’t comply with medically unnecessary zoning restrictions and countless more. Thousands of incidents of violence against abortion clinics and their staff have been documented, including bombings and the murder of eight abortion providers. Today 97 percent of rural counties do not have an abortion provider, several states only have one abortion clinic, and Arkansas and North Dakota have just passed fetal heartbeat laws which ban abortions after 12, or even six, weeks!

This backlash is not because Roe v. Wade went “too far, too fast.” This is because the movements of the 1960s and ’70s—including the fight that won the right to abortion—did not go far enough! A real revolution was not made, this system was not overthrown and a new revolutionary society was not constructed in its place.

As such, the Christian fascists who spearheaded the attacks on abortion were not merely some marginal “grassroots movement.” They were actively welcomed and elevated into the halls of power by very powerful forces within the ruling class of this country. This is both because male supremacy is a cornerstone of this society and because the reassertion of patriarchal traditional values was seen by the ruling class as a key part of stitching back together the reactionary social fabric of this society which had been significantly frayed through the 1960s and was being further strained through the wars, economic upheavals and dramatic demographic changes since.

At every point, this Christian fascist juggernaut has been conciliated with by those in the “liberal wing” of the ruling class—people like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These “liberal” ruling class figures don’t always agree with the scope and severity of the Christian fascist attacks, but they share the underlying interests of this system and they fear the kind of upheaval and instability for their system that would be caused if they really took this on.

It is precisely these ruling class interests of keeping this system stable—not the interests of women’s right to decide for themselves when and whether to have children—that Ginsburg believes Roe v. Wade went “too far, too fast.”

These are NOT our interests.

To those who have thought of Ginsburg as a staunch defender of abortion, and to those who have been swayed by the argument that Roe v. Wade went “too far, too fast”: Stop it.

Stop limiting your vision of what is possible and even desirable to the feeble things these “liberal” ruling class figures are willing to advance. Stop feeding your hopes and better aspirations into the grinding dead end of bourgeois politics and paralysis in the face of fascist assault.

Instead, join with in building massive and uncompromising political resistance against the fascist assault on the right to abortion and birth control. And start digging deeply into real revolution as it has been further developed since the 1960s by Bob Avakian (see “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have: A Message, and a Call, from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,” July 19, 2009) so that this time we can take things all the way.


Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.