Many in the media are reacting emotionally to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. But rather than taking a moment of silence or offering a prayer, many are zeroing in on the future of one issue: abortion.
On September 18, the news broke that Justice Ginsburg had passed away at the age of 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. In response, many in the media saw – and took – the opportunity to focus on abortion. That’s because the late justice’s seat, should President Trump choose the next nominee, might not support abortion or Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide, as Ginsburg did.
Media headlines, including ones from larger media outlets, centered on abortion in the wake of the justice’s death.
A Vox headline proposed, “What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death means for the future of abortion rights.” And an NPR headline declared, “Ginsburg's Death A 'Pivot Point' For Abortion Rights, Advocates Say” – for a piece that dedicated twice as many words to abortion supporters than to pro-life leaders.
Other media headlines chose more polarized wording.
One from Al Jazeera read, “Ginsburg death brings abortion rights urgency to US election.” HuffPost published a piece called, “RBG’s Fight For Women’s Rights Is More Urgent Than Ever.” And a Mother Jones headline read, “We Need to Save Abortion Rights. But Roe Isn’t Enough—and RBG Knew It.”
And a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, warned, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg protected your abortion rights. Be afraid now that she’s gone.
On Twitter, media figures grew more bold in their sentiments.
“LETS FUND ABORTION CARE,” Susan Rinkunas, a former Vice editor and self-described freelance journalist, tweeted out on September 20. “If after RBG's death you're worried about abortion access well, it's inaccessible for LOTS of people now.”
Others joined in the call to contribute to abortion funds.
Teen Vogue columnist Lily Herman tweeted on September 18, “Gonna take a moment to collect myself, donate to a few local abortion funds, and get ready for the next month and a half.”
Likewise, Vice senior social editor Caitlin Schneider tweeted that same day, “Gonna take a long walk and think about all the abortion providers I'll be donating money to tonight.”
Delish.com news editor Kristin Salaky chimed in that same evening, saying, “this is a great time to set up a recurring donation to an org like the Yellowhammer Fund which is already fighting for abortion access for all.”
Other media tweeters warned of impending doom.
Also on September 18, comedian Kristina Wong (supposedly) joked, “Time to stock up on abortions. #RBGForever.”
The same day, Gizmodo writer Shoshana Wodinsky tweeted, “abortion access literally saves women’s lives. if they touch roe v wade the damage will be unimaginable.”
Sesali Bowen, who has written for Nylon and Refinery29, tweeted on September 18, “If you're reading this, cancel your return tickets from Mexico. Just stay there until 2025.”
“And I don't know who needs to hear this but just get the abortion sis,” she added. “And have them put the IUD in while you on the table. We can't take chances now.”
On September 20, The Lily, a product of the Washington Post, published a piece by abortion activist Danielle Campoamor with the headline “Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy is alive in our fight for abortion rights.”
“Ginsburg did not die,” Campoamor insisted, because she lives on in everyone involved with abortion, from the abortion provider to the woman seeking out an abortion.
“You can talk to her when you call the National Network of Abortion Funds to find a clinic that provides abortion care in your area,” Campoamor said of the Supreme Court justice, and “You’ll feel her as you are escorted toward the doors of a clinic by a stranger in a brightly colored vest holding an even more brightly colored umbrella.”
“She’ll be there, comforting you alongside the clinic escort shielding you from hateful protesters, reminding you that you deserve the care you want and need,” she urged. “That you are loved. That you are valued. That you are in charge of your own body.”
Campoamor is right that every person should feel valued and loved, but that should include the unborn human person – a person of inherent dignity and worth.
The media should remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life in the wake of her death. Ginsburg fought for the rights of women, even if she failed to apply the same protections to women in the womb. But the media’s extreme push for abortion to memorialize the Supreme Court justice is not the way to go.