Clarence Thomas Cited This Author’s Book to Link Abortion to Eugenics. He Says “It’s Just Not True”

Justice Clarence Thomas sparked harsh rebuke last week after claiming that abortion rights can be traced back to the 20th century eugenics movement. He made the comments in a 20-page opinion after the Supreme Court declined last week to take up a provision of an Indiana law that bars abortions based on the sex, race or disability of the fetus. The decision keeps in place a lower court injunction on the measure. But Justice Thomas indicated that he supports the law, writing in his opinion, “Enshrining a constitutional right to an abortion based solely on the race, sex, or disability of an unborn child, as Planned Parenthood advocates, would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement.” To make his case, Justice Thomas cited a book by Adam Cohen titled “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck.” We speak with Adam Cohen, who has since refuted the justice’s claims. In a piece for The Atlantic titled “Clarence Thomas Knows Nothing of My Work,” Cohen writes, “Thomas is absolutely right that we need to remember our eugenics past and make sure that we do not make the same mistakes again. He is absolutely wrong that individual women making independent decisions about their pregnancies are the eugenicists of our time.”

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