Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made headlines this past weekend when she criticized the legal basis of Roe v. Wade at an event marking its 40th anniversary, saying that the 1973 decision had gone too far and “given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly.”
Ginsburg, who was at the time of the decision head of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, told the packed audience at the University of Chicago Law School that the Supreme Court should have stuck to a narrower ruling striking down the Texas statute challenged in Roe. (That law had banned abortion in all cases except for those that would save the woman’s life.) Instead, however, the Court issued a sweeping pronouncement on the right to privacy encompassing a woman’s choice to end her pregnancy–a decision which, Ginsburg said, stopped the momentum of grassroots pro-choice groups and galvanized the anti-abortion movement. Ginsburg also characterized Roe as not being “woman-centered” enough, as the opinion focused mainly on “a doctor’s freedom to practice his profession as he thinks best” rather than “a question of a woman’s choice.”
Though Justice Ginsburg’s remarks may be particularly relevant now–her preferred bottom-up, state-by-state approach to abortion mirrors the strategy that same-sex marriage advocates have been using–this isn’t the first time that the justice has publicly expressed disappointment with Roe’s lack of judicial restraint. Over the years, Ginsburg has been quite vocal about the many roads not taken, even while she approves of the outcome of increased access to abortion. The following is a timeline of Ginsburg’s comments from 1985 to present (you can zoom in and click on each box for more detail):
If I’ve missed any other quotes from Justice Ginsburg during this period, please let me know in the comments.