June 28, 2022 – The Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to abortion also supported the inaccurate claim that reproductive health care is a tool of eugenics, according to Michelle Williams, dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In an op-ed published June 23, 2022 in the Boston Globe, Williams said that the Supreme Court opinion helps to “whitewash the vile history of eugenics in our country” by suggesting abortion rights advocates have eugenicist reasons to restrict reproduction in communities of color.
“The eugenics movement has never been about giving women the right to choose when they’re ready to bear children. On the contrary, it has been about ripping that autonomy from women deemed inferior, unworthy, irrelevant,” she said.
During the 20th century, well into the 1970s, state-sanctioned programs motivated by eugenics forcibly sterilized over 100,000 women, most of them people of color. More recently, between 2006 and 2010, the California government sterilized at least 148 women inmates.
“To suggest, in a Supreme Court opinion no less, that abortion rights advocates are somehow abetting this abhorrent ideology by ensuring women have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care is stunningly wrong,” Williams said. Rather, access to reproductive health care, including abortion and birth control, empowers women of color to decide for themselves what happens to their own bodies and futures.
Read the op-ed in the Boston Globe: The Supreme Court is misinformed on eugenics