Linda Greenhouse, Still Fighting the Abortion Wars

The paper's long-time Supreme Court reporter and pro-choice marcher is still keeping up the fight on abortion, decrying racially inflammatory rhetoric, yet lighting into "white activists" for promoting the idea of abortion as "black genocide."
Linda Greenhouse displayed her liberalism both as a longtime Supreme Court reporter for the Times and as an online columnist (most notoriously in an April 27, 2010 piece that made the print edition, where she ridiculously conflated Arizona's crackdown on illegals with Nazi Germany).

Greenhouse also gets virulent when discussing abortion. Known for marching in a rally for abortion rights in 1989, she tore into the Bush administration and conservatives at a speech at Harvard in June 2006, while still a reporter for the paper: "Our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let's not forget the sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism."

Her latest abortion screed, posted to Wednesday, is "Abortion and 'Racial Genocide.'" (The headline refers to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to serve in Congress and future honorary president of the abortion-rights group NARAL.)

Greenhouse described controversial anti-abortion comments by a New York state senator as "nutty," "racially inflammatory," "dangerous," and "tragic." None of those terms evidently applied to the city's 41 percent abortion rate, which was merely "eye-popping."

The news that 41 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion was eye-catching enough, but what really caught my eye in a report on the statistic were the comments of a New York legislator, State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. "They might think that we will take over, and that they've got to stop us," Senator Díaz was quoted as having told a group of fellow anti-abortion ministers last month. "What they did, they are killing black and Hispanic children."


This sentiment, ill founded as it is, is neither original with Senator Díaz nor new. Nor, obviously, is it going away, as anyone can attest who has seen the billboards that depict the worried face of a black infant and the legend "Black Children Are an Endangered Species." Shaila Dewan of The Times reported on the billboard campaign a year ago when it first sprouted in Atlanta. Now these billboards are on display in minority communities coast to coast.

After slashing Diaz for racially inflammatory rhetoric, Greenhouse delivered a taste of her own:

The purpose of this column is to offer some historical perspective and suggest that anyone interested in public health and welfare, not only those concerned with preserving access to safe and legal abortion, has a stake in challenging the pernicious kind of talk that Senator Díaz's remarks exemplify. Those most likely to be hurt by it are the very same women who ought to be empowered to make their own reproductive decisions, not patronized or manipulated by white activists like Mark Crutcher, a former car salesman from Denton, Tex., whose Life Dynamics Incorporated produced and promotes a film depicting abortion as "black genocide in 21st-century America."

Greenhouse then documented the health benefits of abortion for the women of New York State:

Beyond the numbers, the public health impact of legalization was stunning and immediate. Maternal mortality in New York City dropped by more than half during the first year, to an all-time recorded low. Infant mortality also dropped to a new low, which the New York City Health Services Administration attributed to the availability of abortion to women most likely to give birth to babies at the greatest risk of dying, including very young women and poor women who had not received adequate prenatal care.

Greenhouse doesn't link to any official figures. Ryan Bomberger disputed them at the website Too Many Aborted.

NYC maternal mortality was 30.3 (per 100,000 live births) in 1969, 26.1 in 1970, 18.3 in 1971, and 19.7 in 1972. It was NOT cut in half by the legalization of abortion....Infant mortality (IMR) was NOT cut in half by abortion. The IMR was 24.1 from 1966-1969, 21.6 in 1970 and 20.9 in1971, according to the NY State Dept of Health. The true historical perspective reveals that infant mortality has been on the decline since the early 1900s. Every year since, just as with maternal mortality, it had declined NOT BECAUSE OF ABORTION but because of medical advances and the "discovery and widespread use of antimicrobial agents (sulfonamide and penicillin)" according to the CDC.