Clarence Thomas, Black Women and Abortion

On the US program 60 Minutes last night, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was interviewed about his role in the court and his relationship (or lack thereof) with the African American community. For years Thomas has been a lighting rod by those in the black community who feel that he has sold out the race with court opinions that many think hold back minorities, most notably affirmative action. In contrast to this idea, when he was asked if he cares about black people, Thomas said he loves helping them.

"Do I help, love helping black people? Absolutely," he said. "And I do. But do I like helping all people? Yes. In particular I like helping people who are disadvantaged, people who don’t come from the best circumstances. Do white people live in homeless shelters? Do Hispanics live in homeless shelters? Is disadvantaged exclusive province of blacks? No."

During his controversial confirmation hearings 16 years ago, Thomas is adamant that his "high tech lynching" for being an "uppity black" was largely due to his views on abortion.

According to the 60 Minutes report, Thomas believes the issue of abortion is not addressed in the Constitution and should be left to the states to decide. If that were to become the majority opinion on the court, abortion could be outlawed in 40 percent of the country. According to his new book, Thomas says that he personally has mixed views about abortion.

"There are tough decisions we have to make in life. And of course, we all feel about that. People think that because you might agree or disagree with them on certain things, that you don't have that concern about people who are left with tough choices. You do have that concern. But none of that had anything to do with what's in the Constitution. The point is simply this. The Constitution is what matters. Not my personal views, whatever they may be. And I don't go around expressing them on that issue," Thomas says.

Nonetheless, his personal views on abortion should matter. If he "loves helping" black people so much, he would know that if abortion becomes illegal, even in 40 percent of the country, black women will be the most affected by it.

According to the Philadelphia Black Women's Health Project, 43 percent of all American women will have at least one abortion by age 45. However, black women are approximately twice as likely to have an abortion as White women. Women who are most likely to have an abortion are Black women aged 18-24 who are either separated or unmarried and have an annual income of less than $15,000, or have Medicaid.

If the abortion were to be made illegal by the now majority conservative Supreme Court, America would reverse to a pre Roe v. Wade culture where women go to back alleys to endure shady and sometimes lethal abortion procedures. The worst thing about this is that the women going to these back alleys will most likely be low income white women and women of color.

So, if Thomas really cares about helping people, he should use his powerful position to actually prove it.


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